Transformation does not happen in a vacuum. A key ingredient in the transformation process is place. We are not Halloween ghosts floating through time and space. The soul’s address is a physical body and every soul needs a place to experience change. Think about it with me. Remember back on some life-changing experiences that you’ve shared. Where were you? At the beach, in the mountains, attending church, with a friend, driving down some road, hiking a winding trail?
When and if we really change, we always change in a place. A wonderful author, Robert Hamma has named these places, “sacred spaces”. He calls them sacred because these are thin spaces–thin because you can see the sacred through them.
Eleven years ago, my work changed. I left the place of church and entered the place of retreats. I came to the realization that for me, change was happening in me and in most of the people I worked with in places where they could focus, get a way from the buzz of life and cocoon in a place where they could think, feel and experience God’s love in major and new ways. I am not saying that change does not happen in church–because it does. But when you think about it, Jesus never attended church like you and I do today. He used the thin places of forested Olive trees to disclose his deepest truths. He used the natural world of vineyards, lakes and mountain tops to reveal the deepest truth about himself and about those he loved. It always involved places.
In these eleven years of focusing on this insight, we have set out to participate in the construction of a retreat—a cocoon for the soul. It’s the retreat now known as Potter’s Inn at Aspen Ridge, a 35 acre place–thin place near Divide, Colorado. I actually like the fact that our address is “Divide.” At our dividing place many new, life giving decisions have been made that have resulted in transformed lives and changed hearts. Each heart has required a sort of spiritual cocoon to morph into something that they could not do on their own. They needed a place. They needed space. They needed a retreat.
Where are the places God has used to change you?
What special places to you call “thin” or sacred?
What role have retreats–at any length impacted your life?
What room in your home feels thin? What places do you long to go and experience?
Fodder for the fire of this discussion on the role of “place” in our spiritual formation!