Saturday, October 25, 2008

What is Holy Space?

What is a holy place? —Not one ascribed to be holy by the authorities. Not a visit to a holy shrine designated as such by the pronouncement of the holy men who attributed grand miracles and verifiable miracles to the saintly life of and fill in the name. It’s not my type of holy and that does not mean that I denigrate the possibility of miraculous events attributed to the fleshy life of the deceased saint. I find those places cloying and claustrophobic.

Once when in Florence I walked up a hill and chanced upon the singing of Gregorian plainchant. I couldn't see the singers but knew that when the music left the restraint of the dark stone church walls and entered the daylight, it gained strength from the openness and from the sight of the Arno River below. I recall sitting on a dry stacked stone wall and letting the notes envelope me. They filled all the space -- between the stones, settling on the grass, the dirt path, and then wandering through the openness before ascending toward the late afternoon sun. The air stood still and with a deep breath inhaled the voices and shook with a fullness --sated.

For moments my world lay on those tones. Nothing existed outside the music. I touched the holy or the holy touched me.


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