What Makes a Space Sacred?

Posted on August 10, 2012

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On our recent summer vacation, I was surprised at the national park which was the favorite of the ones we visited.  I had expected that the Shenandoah National Park and Smoky Mountains would wow me with their beauty and gorgeous views.  And they did.

However, my favorite experience was in Mammoth Cave, which I had just thrown in to the trip on the drive home to add another destination to our national park passport book.

It wasn’t just the mammoth caves that impressed me, it was the feeling of sacred space around the caves and the whole park, which felt missing, particularly in the Smoky Mountains where there are so many tourist traps.

Mammoth_Cave_National_Park (Kentucky)

Mammoth_Cave_National_Park (Kentucky) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of my partiality to the caves may have been the refreshing coolness of that dark space in contrast to the hot and humid exterior.

The other thing that brought me to awe is that human beings have been visiting the world’s largest cave for thousands of years.  If I’m remembering correctly, scientists who have researched the caves have evidence of humans living in the caves five thousand years ago.

The darkness is what we picked up with most of our camera shots inside Mammoth Cave.

The Park Ranger showed us how we could experience the whole 390 miles by turning off the lights.

I have to admit to feeling very uncomfortable with the pitch black darkness.

My kids were thrilled to see a single bat fly through the cave while we were there.

I wonder what ancient humans thought of the cave.  There seems to be some evidence that it might have been considered a sacred space as well as a place for shelter.

Daily Contemplation:

Moving beyond your own personal space today, if you had to choose the most deeply sacred places and spaces in the world, which would they be for you?

Do you feel we’re doing enough to care for and preserve these sacred spaces?

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