Holy Places and Holy Stories
“Bethlehem and Nazareth and Jerusalem remind us that is to possible to touch, and hold and see God, even in this life, in the guise of helpless infants, worried parents, broken bodies and empty tombs.”Br. James Koester, Society of St. John the Evangelist ssje.org, Brother Give Us a Word, September 12, 2018
Many of you have visited the Holy Land and been to these thin places. You also recount that it has made the stories of what happened at each place more vivid. For those who have not traveled to these particular sites, the stories are still powerful and often can come alive in our own imagination, often through art. There are also places that represent these holy shrines that can also bring them alive. I am thinking of the National Cathedral and the Bethlehem Chapel, the Children’s Chapel, the Chapel of Joseph of Arimathea, and the Chapel of the Resurrection.
Each location can also represent a part of our own lives.
Our Bethlehem is not only the place of our birth, but the place where we start to begin to feel alive, reborn, become the person God created us to be. Our Bethlehem often is a retreat place where our life is changed.
Our Nazareth is not only the place where we were raised but also the places where we are still cared for by the people and places who still nourish and restore us. For many, their Nazareth is their church or spiritual community.
Jerusalem is the holiest of places. It is the place God most often lives. It is where we suffer and parts of us have to die. It is where out of this suffering we find resurrection. I see Jerusalem most often in a grief recovery group called Walking the Mourner’s Path. That is where I see great suffering transformed into a new life, honoring the person that was loved who died and becoming wounded healers to others who have suffered.
In many ways each city is a new life, a new birth, a resurrection. Renewal can be messier at some places and easier and gentler at others.
Today may we contemplate where these holy cities reside in our lives. Where are the places or the groups of people we go to to be reborn, to be nourished, and to be resurrected out of suffering?