safe place

I’ve been in NYC/Newark for 31 hours, making this my longest stay ever. Although the primary reason to be here is to attend a conference, I knew I needed to look around a little. But how? And where? And when?

This afternoon, my friend Tom and I skipped the first hour of a session on prayer to walk four blocks to The Cathedral of Saint Patrick. Nancy had been there 26 years ago, the summer before we were married, and still talks about the space. When I realized how close I was, I went.

I walked in and felt my breath stop. No other way to describe it.


It’s not the beauty or the size or the colors or the height or the history. I think it is the holiness. This is a space which has been committed to prayer, to worship, to God.

We walked around, I took some pictures, we talked through my tears, and then walked back to the conference in the rain. I went to the balcony where I could get power for the laptop and, frankly, to be alone with my thoughts. I could hear and see the speaker, was aware of the group of conferees, but was alone.

We were asked to sing and then to listen to God. And as I listened and thought about St Patrick’s, I began to think about sanctuary, about safe place. I realized that the breathlessness of the cathedral came because of the decades devoted to God. And I realized that Paul talks about us individually and us as groups of Christ followers as sanctuaries. And then I stopped short.

I realized that in the same way that people walking into St Patrick’s are breathless, people seeing the walking-around sanctuaries should be amazed at a dynamic holiness, at the evidence of God working in lives as well as places.

That’s a terrifying and humbling and challenging thought, one which I’m not sure I’m ready to think.

But I’m getting ready.

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One response to “safe place

  1. Having been to a few cathedrals in Europe in June, I never really thought about why someone who didn’t believe in God might want to visit such a place.

    They have vast interior spaces that call one to worship. If one normally does not worship, perhaps it would cause one to want to?

    God created those who designed such spaces. He enjoys the artwork of his kids. Even if they are not ones who worship Him.