Friday, October 17, 2008

Sacred Places

"Sacred places are as varied as the human sense of the sacred and as various as the world's many spiritual traditions. We explore the history, significance, and enduring power of places here and abroad that people consider most sacred."

By Winifred Gallagher from US News and World Report

The term "sacred places" summons images of legendary destinations—Egypt's Pyramids, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the al-Haram Mosque in Mecca—that have drawn pilgrims throughout history. Such structures are physical expressions of religion, from the Latin religare, meaning to "bind together"—institutions primarily meant for communal experience.
But there's a different sort of sanctuary, or temple, that fosters private spiritual contemplation, derived from the Indo-European root tem, meaning "to cut." These are the settings—some natural, some man-made—that you seek when you want to cut yourself off from humdrum reality, open yourself to greater possibilities, and remember what really matters. Only 40 percent of Americans attend weekly religious services, but 90 percent say they pray, and 75 percent say that they do so daily—statistics that suggest that off-the-grid sacred places are important to millions and millions of inner lives.
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