Category Nature

What Is Sacred Space?

At this time of year when much of the world is observing events steeped in ancient lore and enchantments, what can we say about the settings and places where we perceive something as sacred? What do we even mean by “sacred space?” What qualities must any space reflect to be deemed “sacred?” Who decides what those qualities are?

Years ago, “U.S. News & World Report” ran a lengthy cover story headlined, “Sacred Places.” Its rather exhaustive list of such places contained all the usual suspects, though it was dominated by buildings and monuments.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

The Golden Temple in India.

Stonehenge, Karnak in Egypt, the temple of Confucius, the entire city of Mecca.

Interestingly, there was little said about awe-inspiring natural settings—the Grand Canyon, Mt...

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How (and Why) Do They Do That? Notes on the Murmuration of Starlings

One of my go-to lines whenever I behold some unbelievable scene of nature that I am compelled to believe because I am seeing it with my own eyes is, “That almost makes me believe in God.” In many ways, I have woven a whole theology around that sentiment, about God not as a being but as energy, not a noun but a verb, an expression, an animating essence of all things large and small, dark and light, a perfect marriage of the transcendence we strive for and the immanence that we are.

I think that may just about be it for my theologizing today. (Though I reserve the right to change my mind before I’m through turning things over here.)

It’s as if hundreds of different chamber orchestra septets were cuing only off each small group member playing the same dazzlingly fast Bach concerto, which then becomes a huge symphony orchestra spread across a vast landscape, all keeping perfect time using only an invisib...

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The Sunflower in November

Foolhardy? Courageous and dignified? Or a case of simple blind programming, of life seeking more life, more oxygen, more photosynthesis even in the face of decline?

These two lone sunflowers poking up out of the colding November soil just outside the bedroom door look more than a little forlorn to this observant and anthropocentric human who sees clearly the fate that awaits them as the soil grows colder still and the sun toward which these struggling seed pods yearn retreats farther into the southern hemisphere.

Talk about a doomed mission.

And yet.

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Everything that is is first given a day—often not even that in the case of the mayfly, with a lifespan ranging from 30 minutes to 24 hours. If we are fortunate, we get a second day and then thousands more after that...

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