tasting the sacred

The baby found one of my rosaries, just brown plastic beads and string, and he looked over it with his usual intense concentration. He’s clearly got his father’s NT tendencies.

Of course, right after he did that, he did the next predictable thing and tasted it.

It’s a joke after all these babies that “The world is a very big place — it’s going to take a long time to put the whole thing in my mouth.”

Kiddo#4 is at the tail end of learning-via-mouth, but he’ll still do it when he’s stumped, as clearly he was by this beady-stringy thing. Mommy holds it, so it must be wonderful, but what does it do?

As he did it, I found myself reacting opposite to the way I would have predicted. I didn’t leap for him in order to prevent him from desecrating a sacred object. Instead, I just had a sense that he’d actually just done an act of respect.

Isn’t that the way we are, even the adults among us? When confronted with something sacred, we examine it, turn it around, feel confused, and then try to learn about it. In his own way, the baby was being intimate with God, although he didn’t know it.

On Thursday, while cleaning, I found a different rosary under my bed, one that had been missing for weeks. I had to lie flat and stretch to reach it there, meaning I couldn’t have dropped it. I’m sure my sacrilegious cat took it.

Jerina is an overgrown kitten. The vet said she might be two, but I think she’s barely a year. She chases her tail and thinks feet under sheets are an irresistible temptation to pounce. She licks me when I pet her, either grooming me or tasting me. She comes when she hears me pick up the rosary because she knows that sound means I’ll be sitting for fifteen minutes. I’ve left my rosary on the bed and found her pouncing on it, batting it, and “playing” the rosary.

She is not reverent. I’m pretty sure she must have taken it in her mouth, tasting the white beads, then dragged it off the bed or off the dresser to savor it in private. The rosary survived unscathed.

Isn’t that the way we are too? We find something sacred, and not sure what it is, we play around with it, we drag it off to keep it in private. We don’t usually know what we’ve been given or what we’ve found for ourselves.


  1. Ken Rolph

    “He’s clearly got his father’s NT tendencies.”

    Northern Territory tendencies? Does he go troppo often?

    1. philangelus

      NT, from the Myers-Briggs personality theory. In the book Please Understand Me II, Kiersley breaks down the personality types into four major divisions. The NT types (iNtuitive, Thinking) are the geek-types. My baby is a thoughtful geek like unto his father.


      I’m an NF (iNtuitive, Feeling) which means I’m the kind of person who writes weblog entries comparing cats playing with rosary beads to human beings encountering the Mystical and the Sacred. 🙂

  2. Pam

    I keep finding sacred spaces with people in my life and am not really sure what to do. Usually we get pretty deep about something and I wind up being moved to tears.
    I don’t know what to do with these moments. Do I refer to them again, or just trust that the other person recognizes it as such as well?

    1. philangelus

      That’s a question…

      You’re talking sacred emotional space, and I find that afterward, I can’t really get back to that space even if I try, that the intimacy of the moment is a non-repeater. I’ve only found myself in tears while praying about four or five times in my life, and only twice was I holding the image of something sad (the crucifixion.) The other times, it’s been that struck-to-the-core moment when everything is stripped open and I feel vulnerable but joyful.

      Trying to repeat those moments never works. I believe they happen because the Holy Spirit enters into our sphere at that moment and inhabits us and loves us, and tears are our response to the consciousness of being loved.

      One of the readers here once had contact with my guardian angel (which the angel initiated) and later, the woman attempted to contact the angel again and was told firmly, “No.” So I guess it may be that we’re to accept those moments when they come as gifts, something we’re conscious of not-deserving but which are a treasure to hold in our hearts.