Last year the world sat slack jawed as we watched Notre Dame Cathedral burn in France. I have never seen this building for myself but I did visit its smaller counterpart in Montreal once. No matter your faith, you are keenly aware that these are holy places. There's reverence and respect for God and your heart is quieted as you watch others kneel, pray, or light candles. So when Notre Dame burned some people despaired and some said, "Let's rebuild!"
The truth is for me that the holiest of places in my life are not churches. Lately, I've come to the conclusion that buildings are just that - bricks, mortar, wood, and glass and like Notre Dame, they can burn down at any minute. That may sound sacrilegious and irreverent but I have to say that my holy places are where I have had unmistakeable encounters with God. Most notably for me, are my bedside where I bowed in complete surrender on the hardest days and felt the warmth of His presence or the mat in front of my bathtub that has become my own makeshift altar. These are humble places often decorated with dirty laundry not stained glass. Holy places are where we surrender and share ourselves with God, where we come as we are, not in our Sunday best but in our very wounded worst.
Recently, I shared dinner with some friends at a local restaurant. We began with our witty banter but it eventually turned into some soul baring. At the end of our dinner, we literally closed the restaurant down in prayer. While I prayed for my friend I opened my eyes to see a pool of her tears on the table and I became distracted. My prayer veered off and I tried to collect myself but I couldn't stop thinking this very casual, chain restaurant had just become a holy place! I was in awe of the pool of tears. This wasn't some famed healing pool where many dipped into the waters hoping to be healed, this was a pool of my friend's sorrows, fears, and disappointments. I felt honored and reverent sitting before that pool of tears -that she would share these things with us and that I would be blessed enough to pray for her.
It's ok to head to a holy place designated for prayer or worship. I challenge you today to find the holiness right where you are - to feel God's presence amidst the chaos or sorrow you're going through. Don't wait to make the trip to the church or the cathedral, the holy place might be the sink where you wash the dishes and weep for the person you just lost. The holy place might be inside your car where you can pray privately aloud to God and ask Him for the answers that don't seem to be coming. Holy places are where you are whenever you are seeking Him.