In writing about sacred space, I’ve been thinking about religious spaces.  And there are a lot of religious spaces to consider.  Just the number of temples in India boggles the mind, let alone the shrines, ashrams, and wandering mystics.  Or think about the number of churches in the Bible Belt in the states.  Heck, where I live we’re considered fairly non-religious yet there are churches ever 10 blocks or so.  I pass by several just going to get groceries each week.  There are more churches than schools, for goodness sake.  And the US is a fairly young country.  What about Europe where churches, cathedrals and basilicas are not only in use but also tourist destinations?  We’ll leave the Middle East out of it since war is ravaging their mosques at the moment…

So with all this sacred space not only in evidence but in use, where is all the sacrality in the world?  Where are all the results from this spirituality?  Where are the positive effects flowing out like water from their doorways?  Why is the world not a shining jewel of positiveness with all the energy being poured into these places?  And I keep coming back to the same issues I saw as a child, practical application.

As a child I was confused by Christian churches because they seemed to me to be a bunch of loose ends that ended up doing not much of anything.  They helped those who came to them, but not many in the regular community.  They talked to their own members, but not really to anyone outside except to ask them to come to church and believe as the church believed.  They set up a separate community unto themselves and made us/them judgements about everything outside their community instead of working with the larger community.  Now, I have to say I grew up in a small town and I was just one kid so I couldn’t see the bigger picture or see that these were only some examples of what churches are capable of.  But in looking at the situation today I still look, not for rhetoric about how we should think or with whom, but what positive things for the community as a whole is any religious community doing.  Are they practically applying the principles by which they purport to live or are they just talking amongst themselves on a regular schedule.

Nothing is black and white, or cut and dried, as it were.  No one religion is better than another as all paths lead back to the source, to the numinous in whatever form and with whatever name you wish to call it.  But I tend to side with those religions and with those practitioners that do more than congregate and do more than just teach what they believe.  Practical application of actions that can help people other than members of their own community, other than people who believe in the same thing and that have their own means of supporting themselves, makes the entire world better.  Helping, not for gain, but because there is need makes all of us stronger, healthier, more capable human beings.  And doing not just once to salve the conscience or to check mark “duty” off the list but as a way of life, as a habit that lasts a lifetime, that, I believe, is the true mark of a spiritual being.

That’s how sacred space spills out into the world and brings the shards of the Divine back into wholeness.  How will you be practical about your spiritual practice today?