“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees
takes off his shoes.”
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Flannery O’Connor, Wendell Berry and C. S. Lewis seem to agree that there is no such thing as the “secular.” In her prayer journal, Flannery O’Connor writes, “Give me the grace, dear God, to see the bareness and the misery of the places where You are not adored but desecrated,” implying that there are no other choices. Either God is adored in a place or the place is desecrated. No lukewarm neutrality, no reasoned fence-sitting, no secular “whatever.”
Wendell Berry in an interview with Bill Moyers was speaking about this and commented, “There is no such thing as something secular or a secular place. It is either sacred or desecrated.”
And, C. S. Lewis in his “Weight of Glory” essay, paints an either/or picture of the way we treat one another, for he says we are each going to be an everlasting horror as you might now see only in a nightmare or an everlasting splendor. Daily we help one another to either of those destinations. We are not mere secular pawns in the game of life, but are destined for a sacred splendor, unless the forces of desecration utterly destroy and consume us.
So the person ringing up your groceries at the check out line is holy unto the Lord and may, one day, be of such splendor that you would be tempted to bow down and worship them; or may be a desecrated, dreadful parody of a person, hollowed out, horrific, harrowing. Right then and there you will move that person, perhaps ever so slightly, toward one or the other of those ends. Every bush, every person is afire with God. Put down the water bucket, take off your shoes.