Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Small Moment

A photo above of a traditional station of the cross in a public underpassing in Zagreb, Croatia last year. I love to see people in small moments of grace, and their meditation upon meaning. It happens in the big European cathedrals while the sermons float past the crowds of tourists in many languages, focusing on the local faithful who look inward while the world moves past their walls. It happens on winding streets looking over the piazzas of Rome and the waterways of Venice.

It happens in Nepal while the Buddhists mingle with people on the streets, touching each with a moment of retrospection. It happens in India in the streets and temples jammed with humanity among the Hindu traditions of erotic sculpture and Gods of Death and Life. And in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand with the connection of common culture and the touch of children with strangers and friends. The small celebrations of the Chinese in their festivals in the public square. The ablutions of the Muslims in their daily call. In Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, the sacred is blessed every day with the scattering of petals and the immersion in meditation. The African dusk is a time to gaze into the long shadows of the bush, and celebrate the native traditions with people from all over the world. Mexico is a celebration of The Dead in the zocalo, and in life with people in private spaces and the cathedrals in every square.

In our USA, these moments are more rare and formalized, not part of the everyday ebb and flow of life in all its gifts and trials. Somehow the quiet inner spaces and human connections have been drained from the common sphere of life in our cities, and the sprit retreats in the face of the commercialized public space. It somehow seems impolite to express that centered moment except in formal structures, the warp and weave of human life and its meaning is not strongly expressed in our isolated communities.

I would hope that our emerging global community can help bring these connections back into our everyday experience, unburdened by theologies, cliques and partisanship. I am heartened to see the flash music that erupts in civic and commercial spaces to break open the closed off pursuit of things. I love the public holiday events that are celebrated in parks and open city plazas, where people feel free to express their connection to life, music, ideas and play.