All religious traditions emphasize the importance of sacred spaces, places set aside as holy and used for worship, prayer, meditation, and rituals. Christians have churches, Jews have synagogues, Muslims have mosques, and Buddhists and Hindus have temples, and other religions have theirs as well.
Sacred spaces are not, however, limited to the places set aside by those who participate in organized religion. Most of us can probably identify several places that are sacred for us, places where we like to return to connect with the spiritual world, and that which means the most to us in life.
What makes a place sacred? Some of the common characteristics of such places are natural beauty, peacefulness, places made holy by the sacrifices people have made there (did you notice how often articles about D-Day this week referred to the “hallowed grounds” of the beaches of Normandy?), and places where special memories have been made—often having shared them with friends or loved ones.
When I recently did an internet search of places people commonly hold to be sacred, I found a variety of responses. The list included theaters, art museums, libraries, colleges and universities, concert and sports venues, childhood homes and vacation spots, gardens, mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches, cottages, national parks, hiking trails, and forests. The places were as varied as the people sharing their responses.
Sacred spaces are on my mind because I am writing this week’s column in what, for me, is such a place—Door County, Wisconsin, a peninsula found between the western shore of Lake Michigan and the eastern shore of Green Bay. The combination of water, farms, parks, nature, biking, good friends, a beautiful historic church, and the overall slower pace of life have drawn me back here year after year. My cup is filled and my soul restored each year that I am able to spend a few weeks here in the beauty it offers. Every aspect of my wellness is watered here—spiritual, relational, physical, emotional, and vocational.
What places help you to be in touch with that which is most sacred for you?
What places water your soul and restore your well-being?
How will you be sure to make time to visit those places this summer?
PS: If you have never been to Door County, you can get a small glimpse of its beauty in the photo above that I took this week. It is of a sunset we enjoyed just this week, while out for an evening bike ride.
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