Franciscan Sister Marcolette Madden writes on the sacredness of geography in her recent Christmas letter to family and friends. We share part of the communication here. Blessings on this Feast of the Holy Family!
Spirituality of Places can have spiritual significance as locations where one can pinpoint God’s Holy Presence concretely on this earth: the Western Wall in Jerusalem, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Mt. Alverno in Italy. Some geographic power points I treasure include our home on Gobbler’s Knob; a Gorge near Chagrin Falls where Maria, with her “strong right arm,” kept me from slipping down the rocks; Longfellow Gardens in New Jersey where Stan drove Theresa and me for a day of pure leisure; the Smoky Mountains where Mark, Mimi, Mom and I viewed vistas far and wide; and the cabin near Hill City in South Dakota where this summer our family relaxed after each day’s adventures.
Maria planned our family trip to South Dakota this past summer, an adventure exceptionally well-orchestrated. I loved the openness of South Dakota. It was a place where one could look straight ahead in any direction on the prairie and Heaven touched Earth. As one writer put it, “South Dakota, with its long views, taught me the very important spiritual lesson that it is not necessary to look up to find the sky.
In South Dakota, it seemed as though I could feel the land with my eyes, with my sense of balance, and with all the details of how, for example, the breeze picked up the scents off the Black Hills, a cloud caught the needles of a Ponderosa pine, sound waves carried the “yip! yip” of the noisy prairie dogs, and the sun illuminated the Badlands – those barren looking lunarscapes.
The most breathtaking scene of all, one that brought tears to my eyes, was the view of the Cathedral Spires. Something spiritually awesome emerges from such beauty. Some say that in the beauty and solitude of the Black Hills forests, strength and wisdom come. I found comfort in being in that place, and most especially, in being with my family. I wish for you this Christmas beauty, love, and a renewed kinship with all the places that hold special meaning for you – all the sacred geography of your life.