I rely on certain passages from the psalms as my daily guide; most essentially, the words from Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” At the end of 2021, as I was leaving to drive the two hours home on the Mass Pike from my daughter’s place outside Boston, the thought came to me, “I wonder how far I am from that shrine I read about. I wonder if it’s even worth stopping by.” The thought came from “nowhere.” Just idling in my car eating an Everything Bagel in the parking lot of the drive-thru of the Dunkin Donuts. I had learned a lifetime ago that in the parking lots of fast-food chains, my life can change direction. The “sacred” isn’t something separate from the everyday. So I shouldn’t even put sacred in quotation marks. But I constantly have to remember that it isn’t separate from a medium coffee with two sugars and two creams; it’s got wings attached.
As someone who seeks out the holy, it’s so easy to think it’s a place that must be found. It’s a paradox. Yes, there are holy places—this shrine, Assisi, the indwelling of many churches—but in fact, everything is holy. There is no map that exists that shows the delineation between the ordinary and the sacred. Because it’s all one. The Divine is everywhere. The spots we wrongly conclude are just temporal are temples. I know firsthand what it is to be found in the cathedral of McDonald’s golden arches. To find St. Thérèse is opening a door into a dwelling filled with all sorts of other doors that await. It’s like one of those dreams where you are in your house, even though you’ve never been there before, and you discover, with glee, that your house has rooms that were heretofore hidden. Here, St. John of the Cross’s discussion of the Divine captures Thérèse as well: “For He is like an abundant mine with many recesses, containing treasures, of which, for all [who] try to fathom them, the end and bottom is never reached; rather in each recess, [seekers] continue to find new veins of new riches on all sides.”6
—from the book Gather the Fragments: My Year of Finding God’s Love
by Maureen O’Brien