I was cutting through the outpatient entrance at the hospital today a I made my way through the maze of hallways from a doctor’s appointment in the adjacent medical building. Subtlety, time began to slow. The ticks of the second hand on my watch began moving slower and slower. I eased into noticing much of the environment around me. The texture of the carpet, the patterns on the wallpaper, the sunshine through the windows, the inviting smells from the cafeteria near the atrium, the babble of the talking heads over some scandal somewhere on the nearly empty waiting room television, the gentle squeak of a wheelchair as a young woman gingerly pushed an elderly lady, and the silence underneath it all, holding it all together, supporting, allowing it all to be, the glue of reality.
A thought crossed my mind. Would I have noticed all this, all that was present to me in that moment, if I had just left the doctor’s office after being told that I was dying? It was not a morbid thought, just a what-if. (No, I’m not dying.) Would the oppressive fact that I knew I had a very limited amount of time left to live color my perceptions? Or would it free them?
Imagine a circle with hundreds of dots scattered about within it. This is profane space. All those dots are vying for attention, all calling, sometimes screaming, for focus, but there are too many and the focus wonders from this dot to that dot, shifting from the next one, to that one, no wait, this one over here, go back to that one.
Imagine the same size circle with one dot in the center. This is sacred space. Only one dot. One focus. One thing only. No undivided attention. Oneness. Presence. Be-with-ness. Purity. Integrity.
I remember the day my mom died. After the phone calls had been made, Dad and I went to the mall to walk around, to get out of the house. At the time, I did not know it, but that was a moment of sacred space. Hundreds of people milling about their business, each with their own little mission for the moment. And there was Dad and I in one-space. Nearly standing still as the world around us bustled about. There was a heaviness to the hurt, but there was also a lightness of peace and silence enveloping us. Only one thing mattered at the moment. Existence, being, not doing. We were in a bubble with the present moment, of all it had to offer, the hurt and the laughter, the loss and the communion of family, the talking and the silence. And we could peer out beyond the bubble of one-space and see profane space with hundreds of people chasing hundreds of dots, focusing and refocusing on minutia.
Tick, tock; tick, tock. The second hand on my watch began to resume normal speed as I exited into the parking lot and approached my car. A dozen must-do’s began to vie for attention.