Monday, February 14, 2011
Alone in a Cave
I went for a hike. It had been awhile, and boy did it feel good. Through a forest, up and over a ridge with some great views, and back down the rock face to a cave in the rock. This cave dates back to the fifth century as a place of worship*. That’s a long time ago. Now it’s a monastery. Has been since at least 1295*.
Here’s a bit from what I wrote while there:
Inside the cave, complete with alter and benches, I hear nothing but the drip of water on the rock floor. I feel the cold, but it’s still, comforting even. The moment I stepped inside, me breath became a pulsating cloud in front of my face. I see the lit candles - plenty more are available for purchase - and I know that I’m not the first in here today. Statues, plaques, and an alter surround me. So say this is a holy place (the French Pope in the early 800’s officially appointed it as such*). Can a place really be holy? Especially an empty place? And yet, there’s something about it... not holiness, but clarity. The Bible says that the gate to life is narrow and few find it [Matthew 7:13-14]. When did we trick ourselves into thinking it wide? Maybe some of our massive (mostly American) gatherings are less “feeling the presence of God” and more feeling the presence of a whole lot of people. Maybe.
It hurts my heart every time I walk into the numerous upon numerous empty cathedrals, and yet something about it almost feels right. It’s all rather doomsdayish - to be alone in a dark chapel in a cave, village, or mountaintop - but also right. God is fully surrounding me and within me, He hems me in. When I’m here, alone, quiet, clarity is in the air. I listen, and I don’t feel so alone.
*All dating information presented was according to the sign that I read. It was in French. I reserve the right to say that any of this info could be wrong. But I think it’s close to correct.