sa•cred [sey-krid] – adjective
1. devoted or dedicated to a
2. entitled to veneration or
3. regarded with reverence.
I used to think I knew the meaning of the word ‘sacred’. And then I went on a trip to East India with Compassion UK…
Our wonderful tour hosts led us down a dusty path to the home of one of the many Compassion sponsor children living in that area. Along the way, we were stunned to walk straight past a dead dog with all of it’s intestines pouring out onto the high street, only a few meters away from the market where venders were selling mostly rotten fruits and vegetables. When we arrived at the family’s little lean-to shack of a home, we learned that the entire family sleeps on a bunk since their home is regularly flooded by the neighboring stagnant canal. They literally go about their daily routine in up to a foot of water, and smelly water at that!
Then they led us to the Compassion project itself. We left our shoes at the door and stepped into a large newly built church building. The main sanctuary was alive with activity. Children of all ages in school uniforms, having an absolute blast in their various age groups. A maths lesson in one corner, crafts in another. One group was looking at different health and safety aspects in preparing meals, while another was singing songs and dancing. Outside there was a cricket match starting with smiling faces everywhere. I thought to myself, this is truly sacred.
Having grown up in Israel – the Holy Land – for all of my teenage years, and spent countless hours in churches all around the world preaching and singing, it’s safe to say that I’m not unfamiliar with environments that might be considered sacred places to be. But somehow, knowing what was going on in the slums outside as well as the incredible work that was happening inside, I couldn’t help but feel that this was genuinely one of the most sacred placed I’d ever stood. Surely this is the way to change the world.
Since returning home to England, I’ve challenged myself to keep searching for those sacred spaces. They’re not as easy to find as you might expect. But I know they’re there. I’ve written a song with a chorus that says….
Speak life in the desert spaces
Shine light in the darkest places
Sun rise on a million faces
We’re gonna dance the night away*
I’m more determined now than ever to give credit where it is due. Words like ‘justice’, ‘compassion’, ‘hope’ and ‘mercy’ have a tendency to wash right over me if I’m not careful. But these are sacred words. And when put into practice, they really are the catalysts for transforming our culture and society.
*Lyrics taken from ‘Solve it on the Dance Floor’ from Chip’s album ‘Holy Freaks’