INTIMACY AS SACRED
In our culture, there is an excessive concentration on the notion of relationships. It is a constant theme on TV, film and media. Technology and media are not uniting the world. They pretend to provide a world that is internetted, but in reality, all they deliver is a simulated world of shadows. Accordingly, they make our human world more anonymous and lonely. In a world where the computer replaces human encounter and psychology replaces religion, it is no wonder that there is an obsession with relationship. Unfortunately, however, ‘relationship’ has become an empty centre around which our lonely hunger forages for warmth and belonging. Much of the public language of intimacy is hollow and its incessant repetition only betrays the complete absence of intimacy. Real intimacy is a sacred experience. It never exposes its secret trust and belonging to the voyeuristic eye of a neon culture. Real intimacy is of the soul, and the soul is reserved.
In the Bible, it says that no-one can see God and live. In a transferred sense, no person can see himself and live. All you can ever achieve is a sense of your soul. You gain little glimpses of its light, colours and contours. You feel the inspiration of its possibilities and the wonder of its mysteries. In the Celtic tradition, and especially in the Gaelic language, there is a refined sense of the sacredness which the approach to another person should embody. The word ‘hello’ does not exist in Gaelic. The way that you encounter someone is through blessing. You say, Dia dhuit, God be with you. They respond, Dia is Muire dhuit, God and Mary be with you. When you are leaving a person, you say, go gcumhdái Dia thú, may God come to your assistance or go gcoinne Dia thú, may God keep you. The ritual of encounter is framed at the beginning and at the end with blessing. Regularly throughout conversation in Gaelic, there is explicit recognition that the divine is present in others. There are also old recognitions embodied in sayings such as: the hand of the stranger is the hand of God. The stranger does not come accidentally; he brings a particular gift and illumination.