Saturday, 27 August 2011

Seeking sacred spaces

Abbey at Lindisfarne
There are many holy places in the world I would like to visit and re-visit. Some I have; but in the main, at this time in my life,  I don't have the freedom, time or money to go on faraway pilgrimages or long retreats.

Also, I have ambivalent feelings about the need to travel or detach oneself from the world. The pilgrim in me understands completely the need to move out of the everyday; to take on the challenge of a journey; particularly to visit with and walk in the footsteps of the saints who have been an inspiration. The hermit in me agrees with the desert fathers and mothers  - stay in your cell and find God there or you won't find God anywhere. God is in the everyday; and the everyday is everyday.

St Melangell's

Jesus seems to do a bit of both; his wandering mission connects Jewish places with Gentile lands and sweeps back home to Capernaum or to to the place of trial, Jerusalem. When needed; there is the desert; probably only a few hundred yards from the trail  finds him in solitude - though the solitude brings him nearer to his Father.

Window at Walsingham, Anglican Shrine
A book on Sufi wisdom I am reading suggests that people can only be completely alone when they know they are not alone. I like that thought; that the love of those we gather around ourselves gives us the confidence for times of solitary living - not, as Richard Rhor once joked, that some enter seclusion because they just don't like people.

Before the summer break I had no plans and no plans for plans - my life is like that these days - then a friend offered me a weekend at Walsingham which was a gift and a blessing. A plan can be as complicated as it needs to be. Living in Britain I am surround by ancient places of prayer; some well known, some barely remembered. This summer I have visited some of them for an hour, a day, a few days.

St Patrick's Well

Having taken hundreds of photographs I thought I would share these with you over the next few weeks or so - in case you ever get to my part of the world.

I will keep you posted.



Tess Giles Marshall said...

Hi, visiting you here after you left a comment on my blog. These are beautiful photos, and you voice some of what I also feel about the ambivalence around detachment.
Benedictine spirituality says that community is there to support the solitary journey - quite similar to the Sufi book. What is the Sufi book called, by the way, I'd be interested to get it. Glad to have found your blog.

claire said...

Beautiful pictures, Word ♥

Isn't the ultimate sacred place one's heart?

I so much agree with what you say, pilgrimage vs. stability...


Word in the Hand said...

Hi Tess, thanks for visiting and your comments - The book is Chasm of Fire by Irina Tweedie - it's about her experience with a Sufi Guru - everything he teaches her (and he doesn't teach her - he gives her the space to learn in) has an element of paradox. You can see why people link Sufi to Jesus' wisdom.
Claire - of course you are right - whatever journey we make, or don't make,physically it is to deepen the journey within to the sacred place that never leaves us.As long as whatever we do feeds that journey....

Tess Giles Marshall said...

Thanks, I'll look out for the book. And I think all true wisdom points to the same place.

claire said...

Ah, I will have to look for this book as well, Word :-)

Word in the Hand said...

I did get it from Amazon but second hand - no sure if its still in print - worth getting though.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to sharing your 'Sacred Spaces' with you Word!

Martha at Authentica said...

As always dear friend, you are an inspiration. Such a gifted soul. I am blessed to know you and am looking forward to reading and "feeling" all about your mystic, spiritual adventures! I will travel through your words! Blessings to you!

Lynette said...

Thank you for mentioning St Melangell's Shrine where I am the Shrine Guardian. Do drop in for a coffee and a chat at the centre next time you visit.