We all have that place that we consider holy ground. Now, I am not talking about our wonderful church, St. James, although indeed, it is holy ground. I am talking about a place that is special to you or your family, and when you are there, you feel the presence of God. It may be the beach house your family has gone to every year since you can remember or the mountain house that your family has owned or a beautiful garden, or even the serenity of your own backyard. That place you can go to in the midst of everything going on in the world and know you will experience God and be wrapped in God’s presence. Some people call them thin spaces, a place in which the space between heaven and earth becomes so thin, and you feel you can almost reach out and touch heaven and the heavenly realm, where the distance between heaven and earth collapses.
While I have several spaces that I consider holy ground, the most special of these and the most precious to me is Sewanee. Sewanee has been in my blood since before I was born. Both my grandfather and my father attended undergraduate there. And I always knew I was destined to carry on the family legacy. The first time I set foot on the campus, in my ninth-grade year, I fell in love. And while I did apply and was accepted to enter the freshman class in the fall of 1992, I decided to attend Converse College. I knew then, if not for my undergraduate degree, I was meant to attend seminary there. I knew I was meant to continue the family legacy. And in the Fall of 2018, I had that chance. I have always talked about continuing the family legacy with a bit of a twist. You see, I am the third generation to attend Sewanee, but the first female to attend in my family and the first to attend The School of Theology.
Words cannot describe how I feel when I enter the gates of The Domain. In my first letter to Bishop Waldo after I started seminary and almost every letter afterward, I talked about having to pinch myself getting to drive by All Saints’ Chapel every day, often multiple times a day. For three years, I had the amazing experience of walking on the sidewalks my father and grandfather walked and sat in All Saints’ Chapel as they did. Sewanee, in so many ways, is holy ground for me. A place where even in all the midst of my studies and preparations to become a deacon and then a priest, that I felt God’s presence, not only Chapel of the Apostles or All Saints, but in the very ground on which I stood, walked, and hiked. As I sat in Abbo’s Alley and watched the fish in the pond. I had the amazing experience of watching the fog roll up the mountain at Green’s View. As I hiked the Perimeter Trail, first in sections and then as a whole with classmates. As I sat out at Memorial Cross and felt the breeze and sunshine on my face. As I watched the leaves change and experienced how much like Narnia certain places on campus can become with enough snow under the right conditions. As I watched the baby goats be born and grown up. As I gathered and fellowshipped with my classmates and friends. As we shared our hopes and dreams and prayed for one another as we made our transitions off the Holy Mountain.
This week, I am in Sewanee for the School of Theology’s Alumni lectures. As soon as I entered the gates, I realized how much I missed it, even after only being away for three months. Unfortunately, I do not have much extra time to hike or even just sit on this trip. This is a quick trip. I realized that this place is where I need to come back often for rest, rejuvenation, prayer, and retreat. It is a profoundly spiritual and grounding place. A thin space where you feel like you can reach out and touch the heavens.