I was lying down on the bed, as I always like to do in the middle of the day, with my eyes closed, when I heard footsteps come near me. And before I opened my eyelids, I realized something: I didn’t know what to feel! If it was Handsome or a friend of his coming by, that was really good news – I might get petted or even fed a treat. But if it was a stranger, then I needed to go on the alert – to growl or snarl, to defend our home, or even to run away. And in either case, my reaction wasn’t so much about the person as about their proximity. How close they were to me.
After all, I walk through the world with strangers all the time, whenever Handsome takes me on a walk or to anywhere. And they don’t mean anything much to me, just maybe occasionally someone to sniff. But some will come into my awareness, enter my space, connect to my energy with theirs, and suddenly they’re my new best friend, or a serious foe.
This all made me think about the nature of the space between us. At this moment right now, there is a space between you and me. Maybe it’s three feet, maybe it’s twelve thousand miles, but you and I have a spatial relationship (Of course we have another relationship by you reading this, but I’m only talking about physical distance here). And most likely it’s a space we’re not noticing, that really doesn’t matter at all to us.
But when someone gets to a certain nearness to us, our sense of that space changes. Again, maybe that’s a negative – maybe you’re walking down a dark street and someone starts walking too close to you for your comfort, and you’re frightened.
But often, very often, the space is something else. Not negative at all. Let’s say you’re shopping in a grocery store, and there’s a person a few feet away from you, looking at the salad dressing while you’re looking at olives. No big deal at all. But then they turn to ask you about olive oil. And suddenly everything has changed. The space between you has a question to it – are they really just asking about olive oil? Are they attracted to you and trying to start a conversation? Are they nice? Do you want to talk to them? Maybe you like the way they look and hope they’ll stick around? Or maybe you’re just happy to help a stranger out? Or maybe you don’t know anything about olive oil and are a little embarrassed?
My point is that whenever two conscious beings are near each other, there’s a mystery. Maybe very little (like if you’re next to your sister whom you’ve known all your life, and who frankly bores you, but who could punch you in the cheek, or not!), or maybe a lot – like before I opened my eyelids that afternoon. And that, unless one of you is really frightened, the less you know about what to expect, the more magical that space is. In fact, I’d even call it Sacred.
Have you ever been to a play? That moment the curtain opens, you feel an excitement – maybe something will entertain you, make you laugh or cry, change your view on something. Or when the lights go down in a movie theater and the screen lights up. The stage and the screen are, to my mind, fully sacred spaces (Of course I’m basing this on what I’ve heard – no one’s ever let me into a movie theater). Or ask a painter what the most sacred space in the world is, and I can almost guarantee, they’ll tell you “a blank canvas!”
Or think of when you’ve had a dance at school. Maybe it’s in a gym. You’ve had your Physical Education classes there every day for years, but that night it’s different. The room is full of unknown, of mystery. Will that person you’ve had an eye on for weeks want to dance with you? Will they talk with you? Will they want to walk outside with you? Will they sneer at you and tell you to go away? The air is electric with excitement, with anticipation, with fear. And the walls, the floor, the chairs, everything is new and mysterious. Now if you have a lousy night, no one wants to dance with you, and you feel lonely and humiliated, then there’s nothing you’re going to see as special there. But what if there’s even a moment of a chance… Isn’t the place suddenly a bit more supernatural?!
What I’m after here is for you, me, all of us, to open ourselves up more, to feel the magic that exists every time we meet anyone. Not just the materially hopeful side (this person might give me a treat! Or that one might give you a job!), but that you never know what that person, or dog, is really like. That you might get something from them that will change your life – a new perspective, a new friend, even a new joke. And the more we’re aware of that, the more we can feel the sacredness of that space, the beauty of it, the shock of possibility.
I guess what I’m really saying is that mystery, unless it’s clouded by fear, is always sacred. The unknown is sacred. Animals are sacred. And because their whole lives are unknowable, babies are the most sacred thing of all.
Try it. Walk up to someone, whether you know them or not, and feel how the energy changes when you’re a meter away, half a meter away, a quarter. Yes there can be fear, but there’s also anticipation. And you can use that any way you like. To look away politely, or to smile warmly, or to have some fun with it. (Like have you ever stood in an elevator, where everyone politely looks around and avoids each other, and made a silly face and a goofy sound? THAT is honoring that sacred space in a great way! I love jumping on people there, where they can’t get away, but Handsome usually keeps me from doing it in case they’re afraid of me. You don’t have that problem!)
The potential for love and humor and help is everywhere. And you can make it your life. The world can be your temple if you let it.
Just do what I did on that bed. Feel it, and open your eyes!