Walking up Coxe Avenue today, I caught a glimpse into a tattoo studio window. Above the body being inked was a small altar—A Buddha statue, an amethyst cluster, an air plant. I love sacred spaces in secular places: They are the reclaiming of the mystical.
Our American life has disconnected from so much of what is allegorical. Fantasy has been relegated to movie theaters and gaming. Cosplay. (I’m pro-cosplay, by the way, but personally not into costumes. Where do we eschewers of costumes flex our ids?)
We have churches everywhere but they don’t seem particularly welcoming. Can the uninitiated meditate in the naves on lunch break or pause in the cool of the walled gardens on a summer afternoon? And how are we initiated these days, when so many of our rites are relegated to Hallmark Card occasions, and so many of our passages (into sexuality, into adulthood, into our work as organizers and healers and visionaries) are marked by violence and outcasting and shame?
Where do we go, in the busyness of our days, when we need sanctuary? What is the modern hermitage, the modern standing stone, the well of silence in a swirl of information and
motion and to-do lists and chatter? How do we disconnect so that we can truly connect to source and self and purpose?
There are tiny altars everywhere. I’ve started to notice them, focus in on them. A Buddha in a tattoo studio, a crystal scattering light on a window sill, a bell calling us to the present
moment, a murmuration of starlings swooping, in formation, in the deep blue of evening.