We become aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane . . . something sacred shows itself to us . . . something of a wholly different order, a reality that does not belong to our world, in objects that are an integral part of our natural "profane" world.
The environment which I feel to be the natural one, the situation which has been assigned to me as my fate, the things that happen to me day after day, the things that claim me day after day -- these contain my essential task and such fulfillment of existence as is open to me... The Baal Shem teaches that no encounter with a being or a thing in the course of our life lacks a hidden significance. The people we live with or meet with, the animals that help us with our farm work, the soil we till, the materials we shape, the tools we use, they all contain a mysterious spiritual substance which depends on us for helping it towards its pure form, its perfection. If we neglect this spiritual substance sent across our path, if we think only in terms of momentary purposes, without developing a genuine relationship to the beings and things in whose life we ought to take part, as they in ours, then we shall ourselves be debarred from true fulfilled existence.
~ from THE WAY OF MAN by Martin Buber, as reprinted in AN ALMANAC FOR THE SOUL by Marv and Nancy Hiles
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