I’m blogging from a writer’s conference in Montrose, Pennsylvania, where I’ve been teaching writing from a stately Victorian home that once belonged to pastor, author, (How to Pray) and evangelist R. A. Torrey. There’s a tower in this 101-year-old house from which Torrey is said to have made a habit of praying.
I met a woman at the writer’s conference yesterday who had visited the prayer tower for her morning talk with God. “Do you believe in sacred spaces?” she asked. “The moment I walked in I was overwhelmed by God’s presence.”
Interesting question. Do hours of fervent praying in a certain place somehow infuse that place with the tangible presence of the Holy? I know I can’t answer that question with any degree of confidence. But I also know that I’ve also had the experience of entering a place to meet with God and wondering if it was a “thin place,” which is what Celtic Christians used to call physical places where the veil between earth and heaven seems more transparent.
Jacob, who encountered God at a certain place he subsequently called “Bethel,” seems to have believed in thin places. “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."
Thin places, sacred spaces—are they real? Do they matter? I don’t know. Obviously, with the Spirit of God dwelling in us, we can meet with God any time, anywhere. Still, there’s a special spot in my house where I meet God every morning. He and I spend hours there together. When I walk by that place, it’s as if a welcome mat is there, drawing me into a conversation with God. I don’t know if anyone else can sense His presence there, but I can, and it helps me connect with Him more readily.
What about you? What do you think about sacred spaces?