Throughout my life I have learned the value of setting some things apart as sacred. As a child in Catholic grade school I was taught reverence around religious places, things, and rituals. We genuflected toward the altar and tabernacle, for example, signifying a special space where we remembered the Last Supper and honored the presence of Christ. We knelt before statues of saints, not out of some kind of idolatry, but in honor of their lives of faith as we asked them to pray for us that we too may be committed to living the Gospel.
My parents reinforced the notion of reverence at home, teaching me to respect others with good manners and courtesies. I still recall how my dad insisted I call one of my volleyball coaches Mr. (Last Name) instead of using his first name like many of my teammates did. It's not that they were doing anything wrong, my dad just had the old-fashioned sense of distinguishing a grown-up in this way. And when it came to language, my mother asserted that I had a better vocabulary to draw from than the limited four-letter words I’d hear others say. The bottom line was that speech and conduct go together, and both matter.
Whether it was delicately using fancy dishes that marked a unique occasion, or walking through a graveyard with care so as to not trample over one’s resting place, the lessons about reverence and respect that I learned growing up can be summarized in two words: awareness and consideration. All of us are asked, in both little and big ways, to pay attention to one another’s dignity and the symbols of meaning that surround us. I am not always as aware or considerate as I would like to be, and sometimes I’m flat out ignorant until further educated, but I am grateful to have a foundation to draw on when aiming to practice these principles.
It can be agonizing and even dangerous to be in the presence of someone who has not learned how to handle precious things, especially another’s heart. When we don’t know how — or we’ve forgotten how — to regard something with reverence and respect, we risk valuing nothing. And from there it is so easy for destruction and tragedy to follow.
In light of the recent domestic terrorist attack on our nation’s capital, let us bolster our awareness and consideration to new levels. In 2021 let us model for one another what it means to have reverence and respect as a part of our everyday behavior, reserving our greatest esteem for each other’s very existence.
May you be inspired!