What Is Sacred Sensibility? 

 In Religion & Spirituality, Research

Our newest report, The State of Religion & Young People 2023: Exploring the Sacred, detailed young people’s sacred experience. Young people told us that for them the sacred isn’t confined to certain spaces or places, but instead exists in moments that evoke feelings of awe, connection, reverence, or appreciation.  

Perhaps most importantly, young people told us they want more sacred moments. Our data show that these moments often positively impact their well-being, including how they feel about themselves and the lives they’re living. The data also serve as evidence that young people have a spiritual yearning and a desire to experience the sacred.  

Realizing the impact that sacred moments can have, those who work directly with young people may try to coordinate or set the conditions for them. Yet our data show that sacred moments aren’t created or manufactured. Adults who want to help young people find sacred moments can instead focus on cultivating what we call a Sacred Sensibility.  

Sacred Sensibility is a broader posture that enables young people to see something as sacred, appreciate its value as such, and respond to the sacred with openness to exploring its meaning and significance in one’s life. 

Helping young people approach life with a Sacred Sensibility will allow them to: 

  • feel connected to the divine and others in new and different ways 
  • find a space to reflect on and process new experiences 
  • better understand themselves and the world around them 
  • experience the emotions that contribute to overall well-being 

Sacred Sensibility and its elements can inform adults’ perspectives on how they approach the work they’re already doing with young people. It can underlie the design of programs and retreats, approaches to conversation, and the cultivation of relationships. Knowing the elements that contribute to the development of a Sacred Sensibility can help a leader approach the work from a new vantage point. 

Our Springtide Ambassadors offer a few ways adults can help cultivate Sacred Sensibility:

Help young people develop conversation skills. 

Close relationships and conversations with others expand my view of what is sacred. My brother and I, from time to time, have conversations about anything from current problems in our life, the future, family, politics, etc. These conversations provide me with valuable insight that I need. 

Introduce spiritual practices.

I had a mentor during my senior year of college who taught me how to pray through The Common Book of Prayer, and they taught me how to use guided prayer and to practice meditation throughout my day. Every day I pray to the Hindu gods and meditate, which helps me see the sacred in everyday life.

I love to play soft worship music and spend time alone with my Bible. I try to spend at least 30 minutes outside with my pets, focusing on that moment and off my phone. 

Facilitate outdoor experiences.

Going to the park alone or with someone . . . shows [me] the beauty our Creator blessed us with, so it makes [me] feel at peace and grateful/blessed. When I see how big the city (New York) is, it reminds me of how big the world is. 

Want to know more about Sacred Sensibility? Check out The State of Religion & Young People 2023: Exploring the Sacred.  

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