Reflections from Fr Jennings: Our Sacred Stories: God and Us
Sacred Spaces: Finding Our Spiritual Centre
Took a hike, recently through some of the trails of Mactaquac Provincial Park. The trails wind through forests and around beaver ponds. The forests in the fall are a collage of green, and yellow and red. The ponds are places showing the work of the beavers, the energy of the squirrels and presence of deer and moose. The ponds and the forests are filled with a host of different birds. Over it all there is a wonderful sense of calm and peace. This is, indeed, a sacred space. Walking through it one can sense the presence of the Spirit.
We have a long history of finding such sites as places where we experience the presence of God among us. The Ancients, Celts found this in springs, wells and other water sources. These were the places where life was supported for them, signs of the divine presence for them. Here they knew that God touches their human experience in real ways.
In our Scriptures the image of sacred spaces appears frequently. In the New Testament we see it in Matthew’s Gospel, 21:33-46, where Jesus employs the image of a vineyard for his message of God’s reign among us. This image is an echo of what we can find in the Old Testament. In Psalm 80, it represents the whole People of God. In the Prophet Isaiah (5:1-7), God’s People are the object of a love song. For Isaiah, for the psalm and for Matthew, “the vineyard” is the place where we center on God.
Wade Davis is a Canadian anthropologist. He holds the position of Explorer-in-Residence for National Geographic. In November 2009, he delivered the CBC Massey Lectures as part of the Ideas programs on CBC. The series was entitled The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. One of the lectures was “Sacred Geography.”
Davis’ lecture focused on a number of places around the world, northern B.C., the Andes in for usSouth America and the desert of central Australia. There he found places which over the centuries have been deemed sacred by the indigenous peoples who live there. They are places which long have been seen as sources of life for them.
We still need these spaces to bring meaning to our own lives. We have many personal ones. They may include a room in our home where we tend to go to be at peace. The site may be our local church or a community gathering place. Sometimes there is a particular place or path in the woods where we enjoy a sense of “getting it all together”. Whether we realize it or not, we all have our sacred spaces. And we need them.
Often, we do not recognize that everyone of us has a “natural spirituality”. Whoever we are and wherever we are we have a spiritual centre. There we discover something that offers peace and brings meaning to our lives. Such spirituality is life-giving to every human being on earth. Fr. Richard Rohr noticed this in the writings of an English Benedictine monk, Bede Griffith.
Rohr quotes Bede’s insight: “According to the Letter to the Colossians, in Christ ‘all things were created, in heaven and on earth… all were created through him and for him’ [Col. 1:16]. This is truly a cosmic vision embracing the whole created world, which we now know to be an integrated whole,… which is capable of embracing all humanity.”(from: Rohr. Reflections 25 Sept 2020)
Where do I find my sacred spaces? How do I nurture my own spiritual life?
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