Sacred Spaces

In the early mornings,
I walk down
a straight but hilly
country road.
Then I sit
on a wooden bench
in a small and lovely
cemetery.

Three graves
lie before me.

Early morning is
my best time
when it comes
in coolish wrapping.
One such morning,
I sit on my wooden bench
and, as the quiet
soothes the noise,
I understand.

Everything I see before me,
the white skies,
the brown hills,
the trees making their way upward
in artful shapes,
the flowers adorning
the carpet below,
the birds winging
away in silent praise,
all these are
expressions of divinity,
expressions of the One.

I, too, am an expression
of divinity.
I, too, am the result
of a playful gladness
that flows from the One
that unifies
everything that is,
made and unmade.

I look at the benches dotting
the cemetery
and at the chain-link fence
surrounding it,
and I think that even these
expressions of human making
trace back to the One.

Everything matters.
There is nothing that doesn’t.
Everything begins
and ends
with the One that needs no making.

But I need making.
I am an expression who needs
constant care and holding.
I need more
watering and tending than the trees
or the flowers,
more washing and mending
than the fencing
or the benches.

For this reason,
divinity holds me
especially close
and the One never stops
speaking to me,
never stops
dancing with me
and showing me
how to play,
never stops making me
what I am becoming.

My attention moves now
to the three graves
that lie before me.

The grave to my left
belongs to my youngest brother.
His body was
nineteen years old
when it was lowered into this ground.

The grave in front of me
belongs to my father.
His body was
seventy-two years old when it died.

The grave to my right
belongs to my infant grandson.
His body never breathed
before coming to rest here.
It died in its mother’s womb
four days before its silent birth.

I know that my loved ones
do not reside here,
yet my heart remembers
how much I loved their bodies,
even the small one
that never cried.
I remember,
and I am grateful
for the imagery of this place.

My loved ones
had better things to do, however,
when their bodies arrived here.
As their earthly lives were
eulogized, remembered
with gratitude and tears,
they themselves had better things to do.
I cried
as their bodies were buried.
I cried
for the uniqueness of
their laughter
that would sound now
only in my imagination.
But they?

They were off
already on another journey,
released into a firmer reality,
ushered into a fuller awareness,
gladdened by a deeper joy.

Still expressions of divinity,
they had become
already less fragile.
Working in a new medium,
the One had spun them already
into time-less expressions
who understand
the oneness of all things
better than I ever can in my
time-bound state.

This space before me,
as I sit on my bench
in a small country cemetery,
is a sacred space to me
in a symbolic way.
And yet,
everything in this cemetery
on this crisp and coolish morning
is sacred space
in the most literal of ways.

The One that holds all
things in their rightful places
loves to play.
And everything I see
this morning is part
of that play.
All of this is
sacred space.

Even the space
within me
that I take home
when I leave,
back down
the straight but hilly road
to the small cottage
where I live.

I am,
and always have been,
Sacred Space.

Laurie Berry Clifford (2003)

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