This past week in The Collective, we were asked to reflect on what is sacred to us. I had a difficult time limiting myself to one thing. I even asked a couple of close friends what they thought was sacred to me. One friend said: “your children and Islam.” Another friend said: “honesty.” They are not wrong.

So many thoughts came to mind. In the end, what I chose to discuss is not any more sacred than the aforementioned things. But it is the thing that helps me properly respect and love all of the other things I hold sacred.

So what is it?

Nature. It is in nature that I most deeply feel the sacredness in everything. It is there that my heart is open and my soul at ease. It is there that I find my clarity, my balance, and, in turn, my peace.

I believe that we are seekers of Truth — spiritual beings in search of a higher power. For me, that is God. I believe that God speaks to us in everything, and, if God’s message is in everything, then sacredness is in everything. That may be why I hear and feel God most clearly through nature, particularly near a body of water.

It has been awe-inspiring to say the least to be amongst such a group of talented and soulful individuals. After I shared what was sacred to me, we went around the room and others added their voices: Food, Music, Collaboration, The Creative Force, The Human Soul, The Interconnectedness of Reality, and finally…This space…This sacred space in which our hearts and our souls physically unite.

I felt that union of souls while sharing a spiritual practice with the group.

I invited the other artists to join me in one of my Muslim practices, called dhikr, or “remembrance.” My heart was filled with peace as I heard the beautiful voices of my friends chant Alhamdulillah (“All the praises and thanks be to God”) 33 times in unison..one expression of gratitude.

And as I left the group that evening, I found myself saying “Alhamdulillah!”


Nadia El-Khatib is a member of The Collective at The Sanctuaries, a diverse arts community with soul in Washington, DC.

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