LLEWELLYN VAUGHAN-LEE reminds us of the ever-present cycles of Nature, and with them an understanding of time and the sense of sacredness that comes with being in tune with all that is natural. He reminds us that time is essential to life, and thus important to honor in our day-to-day life, instead of the rushing and disconnection associated with our modern-day urban lifestyle.
The sacred is an essential quality to life. It connects us to our own soul and to the Divine that is the source of all that exists. The sacred can be found in any form: in every drop of dew on an early morning spider’s web, in the call of wildfowl at dusk. It speaks to us in a myriad of ways. In my own garden it is in the scent of honeysuckle and the hummingbird drinking nectar, or the chipmunk scurrying after the seeds fallen from the bird feeder. It is also present in every prayer, every song of praise and thanksgiving. The remembrance of the sacred is like a central note within life. Without it something fundamental to our existence is missing. Our daily life lacks a basic nourishment, a depth of meaning.
The “sacred” is not something primarily religious or even spiritual. It is not a quality we need to learn or to develop. It belongs to the primary nature of all that is. When the First Peoples felt that everything they saw was sacred, this was not something taught but instinctively known. It was as natural as sunlight, as necessary as breathing. We all have within us a sense of the sacred, a sense of reverence, however we may articulate it. It is a part of our human nature.
We each carry this primal knowing within our consciousness, even if we have forgotten it. A relationship to the sacred is older than any formalized religion, even though it lies at the foundation of many religions. It is a fundamental recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the world. It is a felt reverence, an inner sense – we even speak of “a sense of the sacred.” If we remember the sacred, we will find ourself in a world awake in wonder. However we may call this mystery, it permeates all of creation. It may be more easily felt in certain places, in ancient groves, beneath star-filled skies, in temples or cathedrals, in the chords of music. But this is a mystery that belongs to all that exists – there is nothing that is separate from it. As such, it celebrates the unity that is within and around us, the living oneness of which we are a part. Our sense of the sacred is a recognition that we are a part of this deeper all-embracing mystery.
The sacred is not something static or easily defined. It belongs to the wonder of life and its deepest meaning. It is also part of the flow of life, its constant change. And yet it has cycles, patterns of meaning. Both creation and the soul have their seasons, their times of light and dark, times of birth, blossoming and abundance, times of fruition, decay and apparent barrenness. It can be helpful to recognize these changing seasons of the sacred. Then we can see how the deeper patterns within our own life follow these rhythms – how we are part of this ever-evolving mystery.
The sacred is a quality of the soul, of our inner being and the inner being of the Earth. The experience of the sacred follows the rhythms of the soul and of the Earth, the cycles of becoming, the seasons of life. In today’s world we are caught in an image of time as an endless flow of minutes, ays, and years that never return – a river of time that is always passing. We rarely think anymore of time as cyclical, of the days as a movement of light and dark, or the years as a pattern of returning seasons – most of us do not live on the land with its rhythm of sowing and harvesting. We have also almost forgotten how the outer movement of time can reflect the time of the soul. Few still mark the year with the saint’s days, or the prayers, rituals, or dances that belong to sacred days. Nor do we hear the monastery bells that, before the arrival of clocks, divided the day for both the monks and the medieval farmers, a day that began with Matins and ended with Vespers.
The sacred is a quality of the soul,
of our inner being and the inner being of the Earth.
The experience of the sacred follows
the rhythms of the soul and of the Earth,
the cycles of becoming, the seasons of life.
This deeper cycle of sacred time, which was known to our ancestors, linked the greater and lesser events of their lives – the days, the seasons, and the years:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1–8, The Bible
This deeper rhythm of time is the rhythm of the sacred. To be in the presence of the sacred is to be present in a time very different from what we experience in our rushed days with the constant demands of the clock. It allows us to listen to a rhythm of meaning, understanding our place within patterns of time that link the growth of a seed to the phases of the moon and the movement of the stars. To live in sacred time is to be present in how this greater pattern connects with our own soul, our inner being, in which every breath is a sacred moment.
But despite our forgetfulness, despite our heated or air-conditioned homes and offices, our disconnection from the soil, the seasons still speak to most of us, from the first warm breath of Spring to the cold wind of Winter. The seasons remind us of our deeper roots and the rhythms that are our heritage. As we get older we can also begin to sense the same seasons in the passage of years, from birth and childhood to old age, when our body’s energy lessens before time returns us to the earth. In the unfolding of our soul we can recognize similar patterns. In previous times and cultures this inner unfolding was marked by initiations, by sacred rites of passage. Now, for most of us there are few outer initiations. Instead, if we pay attention, we can come to feel the seasons that define our own soul. We can learn to respect and appreciate the way time speaks to us, how its wisdom is within us.
Putting aside our daily concerns and our mind’s clutter, we can learn to be present to the presence of the sacred in each moment. Every moment is unique, offering its own way to connect to what is deepest within us, to the wonder and mystery of being fully alive.
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
Adapted by the author from Seasons of the Sacred: Reconnecting to the Wisdom within Nature and the Soul. Golden Sufi Center, 2021.
Llewellyn is the founder of The Golden Sufi Center. Author of several books, he has specialized in the area of dream work, integrating the ancient Sufi approach with modern psychology. Since 2000 his focus has been on spiritual responsibility in our present era and awakening the global consciousness of oneness. He has written about the... Read more