Aug 14 2009

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A Sacred Place

Posted at 8:17 am under Blog Post

I visited a sacred place the other day – a place I hadn’t visited in a long while.  It’s a wild and beautiful place tucked away in the woods.  Oddly enough, it’s not far from a road.  I’m sure others know about it but I’ve never seen a boot print there, much less another person.  It’s hard to say whether I intentionally sought out the place or simply ended up there.  As soon as one uses words like “sacred,” the mind unhinges from a strictly rational view of things.

A place isn’t sacred just because it’s wild and beautiful.  An aesthetic reaction to a place shouldn’t be confused with deep reverence.  I’ve made that mistake many times.  Yet you know a place is sacred when you sense the presence of the divine in it – the presence of something unspeakably real.  You know you’re in a sacred place when suddenly you sense life’s merry-go-round coming to a screeching halt.  It’s best not to ignore this signal.  As such times, in such places, the world itself is calling you.

A sacred place can be a mountain outcrop, a meadow, or a gorge along the brook.  In such a place I find it very easy pray, meditate, reflect, or simply contemplate existence.  I’ve found many things in a sacred place: morsels of insight, a good idea, a sense of perspective, sometimes even a profound sense of well being.  But sometimes I find nothing at all, and that’s okay.  What you won’t find in such a place is that self-destructive madness that some people call sin.  That’s why the word “sacred” is appropriate here, I think.

What’s that I hear?  – More rational minds are scoffing.  A psychologist tells me that it’s all in my head.  A logician points out the apparent flaws in my thinking.  Others insist that I’m just being emotional.  Yeah, I’ve heard it all before.  But none of this means anything on those rare occasions when I stand face-to-face with the divine.  At such times, I put my faith in the unspeakable, fully aware that reason has its limits.

I didn’t linger the other day.  I stayed in that place long enough only to reacquaint myself with the real.  But when I walked away, my life began anew.  When I was younger, I used to think that every encounter with the sacred necessarily triggers great change.  Now I know better.  It only signals a fresh start, similar to getting out of bed in the morning.  Yet somehow that’s enough.

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