There are certain places where it is apparent God is present. There are certain locations where it seems that Heaven and Earth are extremely close, possibly even touching in ways in which one can feel the presence of God in real and meaningful ways. These places can be anywhere where we know we are in the presence of God; from beautiful scenes in nature to a comfy chair where we always go to pray. These places are sometimes called thin places, places in which the spiritual and the physical seem to meet. Places where it is easy to pray, meditate, and communion with God.
We need these places in our lives. We need places where Heaven and Earth meet and we can be awakened to the presence of God in our midst. We need places where we know that in these places we will encounter God, and are drawn into deeper relationship with the Almighty.
I often feel this way in cathedrals. I grew up in a faith tradition with no theology of space. Our auditoriums were nice, and we wanted them to be pretty, but they were never thought of as holy. There was no stained glass, no crosses, and no pictures. I still felt during times of worship that I was transported into the presence of God, but there was nothing special walking in the room. I feel that special presence in Cathedrals. I can feel the presence of God just by walking inside the doors; that I am surrounded with the divine. I am almost instantly drawn into prayer and meditation with my Lord. This is true whether it is a highly decorated cathedral such as St. Patrick’s in NYC or a very simple layout such as the cathedral at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit outside of Atlanta. It’s not that these cathedrals are somehow holy in themselves, but it’s that it becomes a place where the presence of the divine can be felt and encountered. A place where Heaven and Earth meet and we are reminded that there is more to life than the physical we see around us everyday.
This is the way the Jews felt about the Temple. From the descriptions in scripture it’s clear that Solomon’s Temple would have been a beautiful structure. It sat in the heart of Jerusalem and families and tribes would flock to it during festivals and times of sacrifices in order to encounter God. In the very heart of the Temple was the Holy of Holies, and inside the Holy of Holies resided the Ark of the Covenant where the wings of the Cherubim created the mercy seat, the place where God resided. It wasn’t that the Temple could somehow contain God. God doesn’t live in buildings made by hand and God cannot be contained in just one place when God’s presence fills the whole land. But the Temple came to symbolize a place where Heaven and Earth would meet. It was a place where God promised to be with the people, and interact with them. The Temple was a thin space.
There is no longer a Jewish Temple. God has chosen not to dwell in an individual building, but in the lives of believers. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Christians become Temples of the Holy Spirit. We become places where God dwells. We are walking, breathing representations of God. We are places where Heaven and Earth meet, and where the rest of the world can come and experience God. You and I literally take God with us wherever we go, becoming thin spaces for others to see and feel the presence of God.
This has to impact the way we live. If we are temples of the Holy Spirit, taking God with us everywhere we go, that truth has to inform how we live life, what decisions we make; from places we choose to go to activities we choose to engage in. We must always be ready to help others experience God, and we must always be acting in a way in which others can experience the presence of God in us.
As Temples of the Holy Spirit, our highest pursuit is searching for God. Anything that takes our minds off of our pursuit of God must be taken from our lives. We must be wholly devoted, following God in everything.