Sacred Places: Real, or Do We Make Them Up?

It has taken another twenty-five years or so to start to see what links the pond and Jerusalem.

Perhaps, since the differences are so vast, it’s not surprising that it’s taken so long. On the one hand, a lonely, poetically sensitive kid responding to some stolen hours “by the water.” On the other, a city whose name resonates through history and major religions like no other.

But just as one could say that the lonely kid imposed a significance on the pond, one could say the ancient Israelites did the same with the mountain town. Just a pond beside a golf course, like so many others; just a city, perhaps with some nice effects of color, light, and mood, like so many others.

Or, one could say that certain places have qualities that allow us to be touched by the transcendent, and so become “holy places” for us. That those qualities inhere in the places already, and aren’t something we invent.

True, my pond is not considered a “holy place”—but I doubt that many people have known its more intimate self as I have. As for Jerusalem, it’s been having that effect on many people for a long time, and it keeps having it.


image courtesy shutterstock / Pete Spiro / Suede Chen