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All Holiness is One

All Holiness is One

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Published by bde_gnas

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: bde_gnas on Apr 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Explorations: All Holiness is One
Helen Michelson
Here are some thoughts that came to me after consecutive trips to Greece andIreland.In ancient times, every spring where the faithful came to worship the everlastingsource of life had its goddess or nymph. These springs have continued to bubblethrough the centuries and indeed have absorbed the essence of the souls whoworshipped there. The names of those revered have changed, but the feelings oflove and reverence remain.The guide book says, "Olympia . . . the site of the original Games.Not much tosee except some rather uninteresting ruins." From this drab description I washardly prepared for the surge of awe I felt when inthe presence of an antiquitythat most certainly predated the Games and probably the ancient Greeksthemselves.I looked out over the wide plane in the western Peloponnesus, a valley silvergreen with olive trees, and at the distant brown hills. It must always have lookedlike this, I thought, for there is nothing but the rocky earth that will grow cropsonly with a great deal of effort, and yet it is a land that draws one like no other. Imissed seeing the field of wildflowers in the springtime, described to me by mymuch-traveled British companion, but never mind, I was here at last.I was prepared to feel transported by the sight of the ruins all about me—thecolossal stumps from the Temple of Zeus, the gentler remains of Hera's lovelysanctuary, and, through a tumbled archway at one corner, the stadium with itsgrassy slopes—and columns everywhere, some stacked haphazardly, some leftwhere they had fallen eons ago.Thank God (or the gods) for the Greeks, Ithought, they leave things alone. They allow you to think, to imagine, and maybeto remember.Fascinated, I felt drawn back through time, an intruder, for women were forbiddento enter the sanctuary of Olympia in the old days.
Overwhelmed and feeling the need to be alone, away from the hum of tourists, Iwandered from my group and presently found myself before a grove of trees.This is a holy place, my inner self said. I knew that a sacred spring bubbled in thegrove, secret beneath mossy stones, and that it had been here long, long beforethe Games. I was certain it had always been here. The first mortal who had foundit dedicated it to the Goddess, the nameless Goddess, the mother of the earth,the source of life, a dedication made long before the Greeks created theirOlympus of anthropomorphic deities. And through the years it became asanctuary and drew the faithful. That is what I felt—centuries of accumulated,almost tangible, emotion: love, wonder, reverence, devotion.The sound of voices and the scuffle of feet on the gravel path brought me back tothe present. Someone clicked a camera shutter, and I thought, I will, too,because I must have a record of this place. I took a whole roll of film, but not onepicture came out. Not one. It was the only roll of my entire trip that was blank,suggesting that there are some things not to be photographed.That evening, back on board ship, I leaned on the railing and held a glass of winewhile I watched Apollo spread his golden streamers over the gnarled fingers ofthe Peloponnesus, grabbing at the sea. "Here's to you, Poseidon," I whispered,holding out my glass. "For I know you and all your cronies still inhabit this antiqueland," and I poured the wine, as a libation, into the Aegean.In Ireland a year later, I was lucky enough to be hiking near Maam Cross inConnemara, one of earth's wilder, windier, and more magnificent spots. We hadclimbed all morning through shine and showers and finally reached a high, rockypass dedicated to St. Patrick—rather bleak Stations of the Cross stepping alongclose to the rock wall. Nearby was a spring, forever deep, cold and windswept,surrounded by its pathetic offerings: a bit of candle, a few coins, a tiny statue, ascribbled prayer, some shells. My eyes filled at the sight, and again I felt thesurge of understanding, of the love and veneration left here over the years by thepoor, dear bits left by the faithful. This source surely predated St. Patrick, whensome woman, perhaps, left a sprig of flowers, a little fruit, a dish of milk, to anameless Goddess.I spoke of it later to our young Irish guide, and he, in typical Celtic fashion,accepted the mystical as an everyday fact of life. "Sureand I don't believe inleprechauns, but they're there anyway." He nodded his head as I told him mysimilar story in Greece. "Ah," he said, " the Goddess has her secret sanctuarieson this planet. They were recognized by the ancients and occasionally by one of

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