In Search of a Tingle
Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” –Exodus 3:5
Last week, my daughter and I were hiking a few of the trails around Sedona, Arizona. A local person told us that there were several “vortexes” on those trails, described as areas where concentrated magnetic energy rises from the earth. Apparently, some folks have life-changing experiences on a vortex, while others feel a vibration emanating from the ground. Not surprisingly, some people feel nothing, but many feel a “tingle.” The actual locations of the vortexes are not marked, but we went in search of a tingle anyway.
I have read of thin places on the earth, where God has been revealed to someone. The event leaves an imprint that can be felt by others. Thin places are described as areas where the veil between the kingdoms of heaven and earth is more transparent, places where we may feel the presence of God with greater clarity. Places where we know the ground on which we stand is holy. Those places, once we find ourselves in one, command silence and demand our full attention.
While I did not feel a tingle emanating from the earth on a hiking trail near Sedona, I have certainly experienced thin places. The centuries-old cathedrals in Europe qualify. The accumulation of weddings, funerals, baptisms, conversions, and worship – the faithful seeking God – leaves a palpable imprint, especially when occurring over centuries. My own church, though young by comparison, also falls into the category of a thin place. The areas in my home where I pray, meditate, write, and ponder spiritual matters is, for me, a thin place. Awe-inspiring landscapes also qualify: the unfathomable depth and breadth of the Grand Canyon, the power of the Pacific Ocean, a stunning sunrise, the red rocks of Sedona.
Whether we go in search of a tingle at a vortex, a thin place, or another sort of holy ground, we are not likely to experience anything otherworldly without first being in a state of mind to receive it. Silence. Focused attention. Listening. Seeking. When our minds are mulling our to-do lists, when we are consumed by disappointment with others, when we are shrouded in worry over an uncertain future, we could be sitting in front of a wide-open gate to heaven and never recognize it. I believe it matters less where we seek God and more that we do seek. If God is truly always with us, we should be able to engage with God wherever we are; but we must first be in a receptive mindset. Lives are changed in the presence of, and under the influence of God. Perhaps lives are more easily changed on a vortex; but when a vortex is not accessible, we can find a holy and thin place wherever we are, simply by being willing to allow God to work in our lives.
Come home to church this Sunday. Come in search of a tingle…