Sacred Places & Thin Spots

Cataract Pass area, 2011

I have had the honour of travelling to and through many sacred places in the wilderness areas of Western Canada. Most of these places I find “by accident”, in the sense that I don’t know it’s a sacred place until I get there. It is only once I am there that I get an unmistakable sense “Hey, this is a sacred place!”.

Lake at the headwaters of Buhl Creek, South-Central Purcells, 2017

It is important to note that a place isn’t sacred because of its scenic splendour, or because someone else says it’s sacred. A place is sacred when it “speaks” to me. It is place that has something to impart. It glows with a special kind of knowledge that will take me a lifetime to gain. And maybe that’s what my lifetime is for.

September 2020 … A place so sacred I can’t mention its location. This place is both scenic and sacred.
Southern Canadian Rockies, 2020

I can sense a certain “spirit” in a sacred place. It is a similar kind of energy that may come from “a spirited horse”, or “team spirit”, or “community spirit” … but it is a spirit of place. Here I seem to acquire an “extra ability” — the ability to think a bit more clearly, and to understand a bit more deeply. Here I enter — however briefly — a “knowing“.

Looking Northwest from Cataract Pass, Jasper National Park 2011

I think that sacred places are also “thin spots” — spots on the earth where the veil between the ordinary and the extraordinary (or the profane and the transcendent) is thinner and easier for me to move through.

In sacred places I often feel a connection to something greater than myself — something bigger than my own ego or my own interests or my own comfort and convenience. Something that connects me with a larger network.

Below is a picture of a sacred place that perhaps doesn’t have the same scenic splendour as the other pictures in this post, but has emanated a very strong sense of the sacred each time that I have been there.

Two O’Clock Pond is a sacred (and humble, and humbling) place, 2019

It may be that Two O’clock Pond is only sacred to me because of what it “means”. It has been the half-way point of three long and challenging bushwacks in the South-Central Purcells. The area emanates messages … hints of what I am capable of. Insights about perseverance and faith.

A morning moon over Middle Kingdom Meadows, South-Central Purcells, 2020.

One of the important things that I have come to realize in the past few years is that there has been a cumulative effect of my spending time in these sacred places and thin spots.

And when I eventually come to die, I shall think about these sacred places. And there will be a smile upon my lips … a shimmer in my eyes. I have been changed because of these places.

Juniper Meadows, Central Purcells, 2019
Tiger Pass — Shangri-la area, Central Purcells, 2002.

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