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Slipping into Sacred Time

By Jonathan Hadas Edwards & Julia Hartsell

In our last article we argued that humankind is entering a chrysalis in which the old is melting down and from which the new will ultimately be born. This initiation is necessary from the butterfly’s point of view, but it’s also a painful, messy and incredibly intense process. Still, much as we might like to do so, we can’t bypass the meltdown.

Here we are, then, in the chrysalis, a liminal space set apart from ordinary reality. We’re entering into a pause, a breach, an opening. We're entering a sacred time. But what does it mean to exist within sacred time, and what are we supposed to do here, while the virus rages outside?

Let us first acknowledge that the crisis demands a different order of response from the frantic activity that got us into this mess in the first place. Writer Bayo Akomolafe quotes an elder in his native Nigeria who offered this paradoxical-sounding suggestion: the times are urgent, we must slow down. The hustle and bustle that characterize the modern world will not avail us now. Akomolafe likewise points out that the word taboo, from the Polynesian tapu, connotes not an absolute prohibition, but a need to approach slowly in the presence of the numinous. Such a stricture applies now, in this sacred interval, when our every decision can have exponential repercussions. We must indeed tread carefully, step by deliberate step--all the more so around the equinox, one of the year's crossroads, already a tricky moment. It is crucial to move with great care around every choice, every outing, every point of contact. And in order to do that, we first have to slow down--indeed, to