Spirit of a Place

I attended a group prayer / worship meeting held in Bridgetown Church’s Prayer: Room. As I entered I felt overwhelmed, moved to tears. The space felt holy. Part of it was the candles and soft lighting. Near the top of the four walls was the Lord’s prayer written out. Below each passage of the prayer were graphics or words which matched the theme of that section of the prayer. The walls were filled with post-it notes and larger pieces of paper containing someone’s prayers, grouped by the themes.

The sense of holiness came from more than the physical space. I believe God’s spirit was there in a noticeable way. That God’s spirit was present shouldn’t be a surprise. He said that when two or three are gathered in His name, His Spirit would be present.  This morning it seemed like it was more than that.

I was reminded of a couple of experiences.  The first was a few months ago when Jackie and I walked into a barn along the Camino which had been updated to become the artist studio / home of Arthur Lowe.  Later I heard several other people (from a variety of faith traditions) say that the space felt holy to them as well. 

After we had been there for a bit, Arthur stepped away from his easel, gathered us up, and prayed for the pilgrims in his gallery. Later I asked him about how he came to set up his studio. The story was moving and too long to recount now, but I will share a part of his story which is directly relevant to this post. Arthur said he wasn’t into super spiritual things, angels and what not, BUT when he came into the barn for the first time he felt like God said “You are safe here. My angels will take care of you.” It’s funny, we heard the phrase “I am not into spiritual things, BUT” from many of the people walking the Camino, followed by stories of answered prayers and God inspired kindness and love. The way I was feeling, it was easy to picture there were angels hanging out taking care of Arthur and all the pilgrims.

A quite different experience was a church in Castilian (Toledo maybe?) that felt wrong. It was physically beautiful in the big cathedral way, but it felt really uncomfortable.  It seemed evil. Sometime after leaving the church we learned that in the 1400s that church was one of the centers of the Spanish Inquisition, and that many people had been tortured or died by that church.

The Bible says that there are things going on that our eyes can’t see. That there are spiritual forces, angels, demons which are associated with physical space. In view of this, some Christians practice prayer walking, or praying for a city or other geographic area, asking for God to care for the people there, and to bind the activities of evil spirits.  I find myself wondering if the rare time I get a sense of something, be it good or evil, that God might be giving me a small taste of what is going on in the world I can’t see.

Going forward I am going to try to be aware of these feeling, and respond to them. In places that feel holy, to enjoy the space and to pray and thank God for his goodness. In the places that feel evil, to ask God to remove whatever has stained that space, to bind the works of evil, and bring healing and forgiveness.  I am certainly going revisit Bridgetown’s prayer room.

Are there places you have feel holiness or evil? How to you response to these experiences?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12 ESV

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