During this time of year, we as a country celebrate our freedoms and our beginnings as a nation. Many neighborhoods have fireworks beginning July 3 and lasting through July 5.
When we think of fireworks we think of the Fourth of July but we can also think of fireworks in terms of relationship. If you go on a first date a friend might ask you how it went. If there was no immediate attraction or connection you may say, “There were not any fireworks”. Or if you did have an inexplicable connection you may say, “There certainly were a lot of fireworks going off between us!”
We use this image to explain a moment or experience filled with emotion. Now apply this to your relationship with God. What have been the moments in your life when you were filled with emotion related to God? What have been the moments in your life when you were overwhelmingly aware of a joyful communion with the Lord? These are transcendent moments. That means that your awareness went above and beyond the activity. The activity itself was the catalyst for you to have a deeper connection and awareness with God.
To say it in terms of theological expression, these are “axis mundi” moments. Axis means place. Mundi means world. So the rough translation is “the place in the world”. This is where heaven and earth meet. Imagine a straight line from you to God.
What have been your axis mundi moments? For some it is a powerful moment in church. In fact for Catholics, every time we celebrate Mass and receive the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist – it is to be an axis mundi moment.
These our moments of deep awareness and connection to holiness, to God’s presence.
It may be the beautiful liturgy of Good Friday – realizing what our God did for us in the sacrifice of the Cross. Or perhaps it is hearing the words “…fall on your knees…” from the song Holy Night at midnight Mass.
Music has this ability to stir our soul. Sacred Music is intended to do just that. So too is sacred space. Human beings have been endowed by God with the wonderful ability to create things that connect us that much more deeply with God. A centuries old cathedral like Notre Dame in Paris, or the Sistine chapel ceiling of Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome can transport our senses. We walk into these spaces, step onto holy ground, and we are in awe.
Music, art, architecture they all have the potential – the ability to be points of axis mundi.
I asked a group of seniors, “What are your axis mundi moments?” One lady replied that it was when she married her husband. Another lady said it was the birth of her first son. And yet a third lady said it was and continues to be when she hears children laughing what beautiful answers. In the experience of being overwhelmed with love and joy one’s spirit is then connected to the source of joy and love.
Today enjoy the fireworks in your relationship with God. Find your axis mundi moments.