This past week I was overseas on business. On the final evening, I found myself looking up at the Cologne Cathedral. It was stunning. Construction of this amazing cathedral began in 1248 and was not completed for another 600 years. It felt like sacred ground. Even while the rest of Cologne was decimated in World War II, this glorious structure was hardly touched. Over 20,000 still visit it daily.
This past weekend, over 115,000 of the devoted made a pilgrimage to another sacred space. This one was build in 1927 by Fielding Yost. It is probably best known as the “Big House.” At both places people gather, feel a sense of awe and community. They leave feeling they have been a part of something “bigger.”
I have a colleague, David Crumm, who believes that the old definitions for what is secular space and what is sacred space have shifted. He goes so far as to point out that in our daily habits, we have transformed Starbucks coffee shops into the most successful new denomination of urban temples. Starbucks is where we now gather, wrestle with life’s big issues and feel a sense of community.
I think he is on to something. There may be value in rethinking the sacred meaning of place. We acknowledge this already in places like Ground Zero and Gettysburg. But what about those more personal sites that trigger memories just in their mention and can bring on much deeper emotions when revisited?
- Are there sacred spaces in your life?
- What are the common characteristics of these places?
- How are they different from those others may have acknowledged in the past?