"The Church not made with hands, not contained by man, that precious place unmade by man...." The old Waterboys tune came to mind this week after a couple conversations with new folks interested in coming out on retreat. One inquirer asked if someone not necessarily into the practice of yoga would benefit. The answer? Absolutely. In establishing the Higher Haven, there was a natural movement toward the world of Yoga practitioners, given the popularity of the practice as well as the yogic mindset toward self development and spiritual growth. As stated elsewhere on this site, "Taking a journey of health, transformation and fullfillment is open to everyone, and the benefits of practice can soon be yours, regardless of your current level of physical fitness." We've had some newcomers to yoga take to and enjoy the practice thoroughly. But even beyond a focus on other practices like guided meditation instruction and Ceremonial experience, just the simplified environment of being away and immersed in nature can be a real healer.
Another caller conveyed aspects of her Christian background and affiliation with the Lutheran Church. "Our family is a family of faith," she explained. "But we understand that all people are children of God." Good one. I can relate, having a comfort with Christianity through a Catholic upbringing. I also went a little more hardcore during college, influenced by my girlfriends' sister, the first sincere, spiritually-centered person I ever met, and accepted Christ as my savior. Back then, I was quite sure I needed... Something. Faith. God. Good Orderly Direction, as some people say. My own journey as a seeker continued - exploring indigenous healing methods and eastern Meditation practices - just as my understanding of sacred space - both in and outside traditional places of worship - evolves to this day. And I'm happy that its lead to offering a unified experience at The Higher Haven that transcends all creeds and categories, but includes all people.
When I lived in downtown Chicago, I joined Fourth Presbyterian Church - "A Light In The City" - and still receive their Daily Devotions. A scripture reading came through this week on 2 Samuel, focused on David building a house for the Lord's name, and God in turn establishing the throne of David's kingdom forever. The Reflection on this Reading follows: "... we say that 'ground' or 'space' is made Holy only when the people of God gather for worship. Sanctuaries aren't Holy on their own, we claim. It takes the gathering of God's people to sanctify - or make Holy - space or ground. Despite our best efforts, stone and wood, gold and glass alone can't make a church building Holy. To put it plainly, it's only God's house when God shows up - and God only shows up when we show up together.
David really wants to build a Temple for God. He wants to give God a dwelling place that is grand and fitting. But God stops David in his tracks: "Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle." God reminds David that God is bigger than any one place and cannot be contained by people. God has remained with the people wherever they sojourned. In fact, God tells David that the people of God - you and me - serve as the home of God.
That's a pretty radical understanding of creating a sanctuary or dwelling place for God. God is with us when we gather - wherever we gather. At the family dinner table after a long day: God dwells. At the bedside of the sick and dying: God dwells. Marching on Daley Plaza with the faithful for those without food, without homes, or without safety, God dwells. Wherever the faithful gather, God's presence abides. And that's a liberating concept. We don't need the four walls of the church to bid the presence of God, although sometimes that helps. We simply need willing and open hearts. God does the rest." Amen.