Practices From the Inside Out: Recognizing the Presence of the Sacred


Recognizing the Presence of the Sacred

People think some places, some buildings are more sacred than others. we may believe certain days or times of year are more sacred than the rest.

There are rarely signs or labels to let us know when we are in a sacred moment. One minute often feels the same as another. We need to recognize the presence of the Sacred for ourselves.

How do we tell? What are the ways we recognize the presence of the Sacred in our lives? Are there things we do to make one one day more sacred than another?

We recognize what is familiar to us. When we see the faces of people we know and love, or taste our favorite flavors. We recognize what we remember or have grown accustomed to experiencing.

Many of us practice spiritual disciplines but do not really believe we will experience spiritual life. Spiritual life has grown unfamiliar to us and we do not know how we would recognize it.

We may not even be sure what makes a place or a day or an experience sacred. What does Sacred feel like?

Have we ever really experienced the Sacred? Would we know it if we felt it?

Can anyone else really tell us what is Sacred and what is not? We need to know what is sacred for ourselves without a sign to tell us.

How do we recognize the presence of the Sacred?

What is the Sacred like?

We live in a world where it can be a challenge to recognize the Sacred.

Some people think the Sacred is exclusive, and generally excludes them. They may feel unworthy or that they do not deserve access to spiritual life. There are people who have never experienced a single sacred moment.

For some of us, the Sacred is a physical sensation. We may get a sensation or feeling which reinforces the sacred significance of what is happening. There may be a sense of being comforted or stimulated which points us in a certain direction.

Other people experience the Sacred as primarily intellectual or analytical. They may recognize the Sacred in deep truths or core values. Some of us recognize the presence of the Sacred in elegant mathematical equations or proofs. They may find the presence of the Sacred in an efficient, effective solution to a problem.

We may experience the presence of the Sacred in our relationships. It may be the balance and health of our communities which show us the Sacred. We may see the Sacred in living in right relationship with other people, or the Earth.

Some people recognize the presence of the Sacred in religion, and some do not.

Each of us needs to find our own way of experiencing and recognizing the presence of the Sacred. Other people can make suggestions and help us, but they cannot tell us what to do.

Where do we begin? How do we find our own personal experience of the Sacred?

Getting to Know the Sacred

Finding our own experience of sacred presence can seem intimidating or overwhelming. It is a little like meeting someone for the first time.

Part of the challenge is we are often afraid of what we cannot see. The Sacred seems pretty spooky. In a way, it is like getting to know someone you have only met through social media.

I have quite a few friends through social media I have never met in person. I do not know the sound of their voices and never sat with them face to face. We have conversations and I read what they have written. There are times when we can share jokes and stories, and talk about serious questions.

The more time we spend together, reflecting on our shared experiences, the better we know each other.

As our electronic relationship develops we begin to recognize each other. Even if we have never been together in the same place we recognize each other’s presence.

We get to know the Sacred by spending time being open to it. It may be helpful to read about someone else’s experience of the Sacred. There may be times when we want to talk and other times when we prefer to sit and listen. Sometimes it is helpful to talk with someone else about how we experience the presence of the Sacred.

There may be places where, at first, we feel closer to the presence of the Sacred. As our relationship develops, we begin to recognize the presence of the Sacred in more places.

We grow from feeling uncomfortable to developing a more trusting relationship.

Finding the Sacred in the Everyday

Our relationship grows and we begin recognizing the presence of the Sacred in new places. We start discovering the Sacred in unexpected ways and places.

The rules and distinctions we used to have about the Sacred fade away. We come to see many of the things which made the Sacred overwhelming or intimidating in new ways.

It becomes evident to us we do not need to go to a particular place to find the presence of the Sacred. We see we live in the presence of the Sacred because it is within us. The Sacred goes where we go.

It becomes clear to us the Sacred is not a conclusion to be proved or a problem to be solved. Sacred truth surrounds and fills us and spiritual life inspires us to become more.

We recognize the presence of the Sacred because it becomes familiar to us. Spending time in its company allows us to build a relationship together. It is not that we have earned enough points or done enough good.

Our relationship to the Sacred is built of respect and love. We know the Sacred as it knows us.

The Sacred becomes the face of someone we know and love, a favorite flavor we recognize.

How do you recognize the presence of the Sacred this week?

Where is the Sacred in your everyday life today?

[Image by garryknight]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

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