Last year, on a vacation to New York City, I took my wife to see Times Square. A block away we heard the loud din of voices and saw the bright lights, and as we rounded the corner a maelstrom of noise, crowds, and towering incandescent images assaulted us.
Thousands of people were crammed into a small area doing nothing except watching each other watching each other. They even had bleachers to observe the show, playing out like an endless loop of mutually contagious energy with no specificity.
It felt vaguely reminiscent of some contemporary worship services.
The emotional spectacle of people feeding off people feeding off people. And, like Times Square, the sense that the ‘place’ is where the ‘something’ happens.
Wanting a certain experience, most of us tend to go to a place. With concerts, plays, sporting events, seminars, and yes, worship, we attend at specific locations.
It’s interesting that worship has now been commodified enough as to become place specific, whether in a building or in the beauty outdoors.
However, agrarian poet Wendell Berry notes:
“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”
Meaning in worship, the place the ‘something happens’ is Times Square, the church building, the outdoors and all the places in between.
All are sacred, desecrated only by our limited imagination to see the Divine’s handiwork, and our lack of reverence for anything beyond our own aesthetic.
The place the ‘something happens’ is where we make room in our hearts to witness the Holy work wonder wherever.
“That All, which always is all everywhere” — John Donne
Our featured image here is used with kind permission from Julie Jablonski for The Cultivating Project.