I grew up going to church, and as a result, I have lots of wonderful friends (and family members) who are “religious” (I put the word in quotation marks because many of these friends would object to being labeled with it). It naturally follows that religious and devotional articles and blog posts sometimes pop up on my Facebook feed. Sometimes, I read them. I think that there is something to be learned from religious teachings, whether or not you ascribe to any particular religion. (/end apologia)
So the other day, I was reading one of these devotional blog posts and something stood out to me that I thought was worth sharing here. The post was about approaching daunting tasks, which spoke to me because life has been a bit of a daunting task lately. (Remember that time I kind of went crazy? Yeah, that’s still a thing.) It was about Solomon, the son of King David (Remember King David? He makes an appearance in Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, which everyone has heard some variation of, probably way too many times.) Anyway, Solomon becomes king at a pretty young age, and according to the Bible story, goes to a place called Gibeon to sacrifice like a thousand goats and to pray because he is completely freaked out by the whole becoming king thing. That night, God shows up and tells Solomon to ask for anything he wants. Kind of like a genie. And Solomon asks for wisdom, which is the Right Answer, and God’s like, “Heck yeah, I’ll give you wisdom! And also you’ll be super rich and live for a long time, because I like the cut of your gib.” Anyway, that’s what it says in the Bible.
So the point (always so much preamble!) of sharing all this is that in his reflection, the writer of this devotional asks, “What is your holy place?” Solomon went to a “high place” in Gibeon, which was a spiritually significant location, to do his soul searching. I think many of us, religious or not, have a “holy” place -somewhere that we go to find answers, or to be more at peace with our questions. Some people are trying to communicate with God, most of us are just trying to be a little less confused.
Life gets busy, and I get caught up in details and noise pretty easily. But I have always had a holy place. My grandma has a cottage on a little lake in the Muskokas where I have spent time during many big life events: The end of high school, the end of university, the end of two major relationships. I step out of the car, walk down the stairs to the water, and sit on the dock, and I can breathe again, no matter how long it’s been since my lungs filled with smoke and pillow stuffing.
Growing up, there used to be a creek down the street and through the woods, where I would go when things felt hard (which, when I was 13, they always did, because LIFE, at 13, is always a total disaster). The mountains have always been holy to me -a place to wrestle with demons or find meaning when I’ve lost it. I go for a walk by the ocean nearly every day, because it calms my anxieties and lifts my mood. The ocean never fails to make things a little bit better -it is my most practical holy place. Fitting that I got to start the year this year in the ocean, if only for a very brief, kind of shriek-y moment.
I have been wondering lately if my life priorities still match who I am. Do I want to go skiing because I still love the mountains, or because I used to love them? I’ve always been bad at letting go. But I asked myself this question: what is my holy place? And mountains are still an answer. I’m not done with them yet -there are still answers, or at least peace with the questions, there for me.
So, do you have a “holy place”? Do you have a name for it that doesn’t involve religious terminology? Where do you go to ask your big questions?