Sacred Ground

Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ Exodus 3:5b NRSV (Read in context.)

My mother taught me that God is everywhere.  Most Christians would agree with her; the One we call God can meet us anywhere. Indeed the sacred surrounds us, enveloping us. Each human being even reflects the divine (Imago Dei), according to most followers of Jesus.

We often co-create sacred spaces with the divine, the one I call God. In churches and other places we invoke the spirit with candles, prayers, or incense. (I often burn incense and light a candle to remind me of God’s presence. They help me to remember that my gifts are from God.) Some indigenous people burn cedar or sage. Most faith traditions of which I am aware have ways to draw our distracted human minds to focus on the One, on the sacred. These rituals are not limited by location.

But there do seem to be places in which God’s presence is palpable. As I’ve been hiking the Columbia River Gorge this year, I have happened upon places that draw me in, call me to prayer and meditation. Some of these places are simply pretty spots where the artistry of the Creator’s brush compel me to awe.

“Some of these places are simply pretty spots where the artistry of the Creator’s brush compel me to awe.” Photo by Tim Graves

Others have been co-created by human beings. Another person has felt compelled, for reasons I am unaware, to modify the location. The zen rocks along the Coyote Wall trail, for example, demand a sabbath along the journey to the peak.

The Coyote Wall Zen rocks are flanked by Mt. Hood. Photo by Tim Graves

Sometimes the sacred ground I encounter is long, narrow, and winds through Mother Earth’s majesty. The experience of putting one foot in front of the other — of the journey — is itself holy. Being present on that trail as it wanders through the forest, meadow, or along the river, the One walks with me.  The God who loves extravagantly heals me, prods and challenges me, and reminds me that the majestic unfolding realm of God includes each of us.

Photo by Tim Graves

Note: As I begin the long-term project of creating a spiritual guide to various trails within the Columbia River Gorge, I will be highlighting Sacred Ground that I encounter on my hikes.

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