While reflecting on the role of place and sacred space in Christian faith, I came across a passage in Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places that I thought was particularly relevant to the discussion we have been having, and quite profound.
“What we often consider to be the concerns of the spiritual life – ideas, truths, prayers, promises, beliefs – are never in the Christian gospel permitted to have a life of their own apart from particular persons and actual places. Biblical spirituality/religion has a low tolerance for “great ideas” or “sublime truths” or “inspirational thoughts” apart from the people and places in which they occur.
God’s great love and purposes for us are all worked out in messes in our kitchens and backyards, in storms and sins, blue skies, the daily work and dreams of our common lives. God works with us and as we are and not as we should be or think we should be. God deals with us where we are and not where we would like to be.
People who want God as an escape from reality and the often hard conditions of this life don’t find much to their liking in this aspect of our Scriptures, our texts for living. But there it is. There is no getting around it.
But to the man and woman wanting more reality, not less, this insistence that all genuine life, life that is embraced in God’s work of salvation, is grounded, placed, is good news indeed.
‘Eden in the east’ is the first place named in the Bible. It comes with the unqualified affirmation that place is good, essential, and foundational for providing the only possible creation conditions for living out our human existence truly.”