Within my coarse and sometimes risqué personal vernacular the expression “Sacrament of Heaven” has no ecclesiastical meaning. Rather it is intended only to capture the thrilling inscrutability of the conjunction of fortuity and beneficence. Never have I considered the concurrence of fortuity and beneficence anything more than chance. As a result it is to be taken with exceeding gratitude and the admission of the incalculable riddle of life. If that makes me reverent, so be it, I could care less.
Sacraments signify god’s grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant such as in the eucharist – bread and wine exemplifying the body and blood of god.
In Ancient Rome, the term (sacrament) meant a soldier’s oath of allegiance. Tertullian, a 3rd-century Christian writer, suggested that just as the soldier’s oath was a sign of the beginning of a new life, so too was initiation into the Christian community through baptism and Eucharist.
A similar induction ceremony is renowned in Freemasonry. Having participated extensively in both the Anglican and Masonic rituals I can attest that both invite a new beginning and a devotion to allegiance to a higher authority as well as to the members of the group. I attach no greater significance to the sacraments than metaphor – for example, the square and compass illustrating the obligation to meet others on the level, to stand upright for one’s beliefs and to accept that we all live within bounds however different they may be. This similar extension from the abstruse and perplexing rhetoric of the Catholic church for example has been quelled by the likes of the Quakers and the Salvation Army who prefer to recognize reality more the the putative mystery of the sacraments.
As much as it reeks of a saccharin compound and a Pollyanna declaration of sweetness and light, I cannot resist declaring my mercenary conscription to what I perceive to be the sacraments of heaven.
Pollyanna is a 1913 novel by American author Eleanor H. Porter, considered a classic of children’s literature. The book’s success led to Porter’s soon writing a sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up (1915). Eleven more Pollyannasequels, known as “Glad Books”, were later published, most of them written by Elizabeth Borton or Harriet Lummis Smith. Further sequels followed, including Pollyanna Plays the Game by Colleen L. Reece, published in 1997. Due to the book’s fame, “Pollyanna” has become a byword for someone who – like the title character – has an unfailingly optimistic outlook; a subconscious bias towards the positive is often described as the Pollyanna principle. Despite the current common use of the term to mean ‘excessively cheerful’, Pollyanna and her father played the glad game as a method of coping with the real difficulties and sorrows that, along with luck and joy, shape every life.
Only this afternoon, upon my return from a 15.28 Km cycle along the shore of the North Atlantic Ocean adjacent Hilton Head Island to our abode in Harbour Town, I again celebrated what I cannot but see as unprecedented luck and generosity. Nor do I for a minute pretend to have an entitlement to the advantage other than serendipity. For those who might forgivingly suggest, “You’ve earned it!“, to that I say, “Pshaw!” What utter rubbish! I have no more “earned” anything than the dog which is served its bowl of kibble at the end of the day by its master. If entitlement helps persuade oneself of licence, I can only say how unfortunate for you that you haven’t the insight and humility to recognize the dynamism of the universe. You, my poor soul, have had very little if any authority in the evolution of your enterprise on this indecipherable planet. If it is worth rejoicing, then It is but the sacrament of heaven!