We have been privileged to perform over 200 times and each time a discussion ensues with the audience. And despite the hundreds of discussions with thousands of people, there is always an insight to be gained. Most recently, it was the question of “Where is your Sacred Place?”
The question had not really occurred to me before and it is a good question. Good because it not only seeks and answer, but it provokes a new thought or perspective. When life becomes unbearable. When your optimism abandons you or your hopes have been dashed. When you get a diagnosis or the person you love does. Or when you look down at your phone and a Twitter mentions the death of someone you know. Or as in the days of yore, the phone rings and it is unbearable news. Where do you go?
In 2000, I “went to the Ballroom.” This place exists in my head. It is as real as the meditation room at the Brahma Kumaris offices on 5th Avenue in New York. It just is in my head. In 2000, when I could no longer “hold it together” – when I got so nauseous and so afraid of the future that I could explode –I found myself “standing in the center of an empty, grand ballroom, note quite sure where I was in relationship to everything else that was there.” It allowed me to imagine Grace. The unthinkable moment not as tragic and unbearable but as a beautiful moment as I handed Susan’s soul off to a better place in bright rays of multicolored light engulfing her in a divine cloak of love.
After my last show, I was asked though if there were “real world” places I would go to settle my soul when I became troubled. Was there a more corporeal location and what was it? Instead of answering I asked him, the questioner, where did he go and why? His answer did not surprise me. The question though provided the insight that all people need what a call “existential safety zones” – sacred places for the soul. That doesn’t mean they have them – that is that we know where and when to go. Instead we can often get depressed, lost and sad. We go for medical help, or we can’t cope, and we harm ourselves.
There is of course no right answer to this question. I think the idea of looking for and finding such a place, or places, is itself a lesson. This is especially true for everyone, and especially true for those who engage existential moments every day—or are trained to do so. Here are a few the come to mind:
- Doctors, particularly oncologists and fields that deal with end-of-life situations
- Hospice professionals.
- Religious Leaders, especially those in medical chaplaincy
- You and me.
So where are some of those places? Where do they go? What do you do? Are you alone? Do you want company? Is it quiet or loud? And does it help? Do you get renewed, energetic, filled back up? Or do you become quiet, open, at one with the world and life? Or something else?
I so loved getting this question, and without revealing who the questioner was, I will note that it was a person whose life is devoted to confronting those in Europe with historic responsibility for the holocaust. This person among other things helps to bring to light the “small atrocities” that happened in villages and hamlets rather than in giant camps. And that work can be soul sapping. His Existential Safety Zone turns out to be the silent, empty sanctuary of a synagogue. Where is yours? Here are some that come to mind for me, offered simply to provoke your thinking:
- The Cemetery - a bench or in front of a grave.
- A room in the house with music.
- A park near-by or cove within the park.
- A vista on a mountain from an overlook parking lot
- Church or synagogue
- Meditation Room
Is your existential safety zone in this dimension of time and space, or is it somewhere else?
No answers. Just questions. Please share.
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