I’m not sure why I love this word! It can have very negative connotations of something restricted, forbidden or beyond censure. But it gives me a warm sense of childhood awe and the amber light of candles and simple prayers.
If you look Sacred up in a dictionary, there are usually five definitions.
- exclusively devoted to a deity or to some religious ceremony or use; holy; consecrated
- worthy of, or regarded with, reverence, awe, or respect
- protected by superstition or piety from irreligious actions
- connected with, or intended for, religious use: sacred music
- dedicated to; in honour of
The word came into use in the 14th century but it has its roots much earlier and is probably from the Old Latin ‘saceres’ which can be connected with binding in the sense of enclosing or protecting!
But for me the feeling of the word is much closer to an Encyclopaedia Britannica reference . This is to the power, being, or realm understood by religious persons to be at the core of existence and to have a transformative effect on their lives and destinies. Now that really does take me back to my simple childhood sense of the sacred and the picture above – Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World. My father won a small copy of it as a Sunday School prize when he was a child. It hung over my bed from as early as I can remember. When I knelt to say my prayers, this was the God to whom I prayed, having no doubts at all about what was sacred!