You know them when you see them, or when you’re in them. Although often hard to define, there is a firing across all sensory banks, letting you know that this place or experience is different, really different. Sacred spaces. Pages for the ages. Timeless. Rooting.
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The Grand Canyon is one of those spaces. So too is the Hagia Sophia, a 1500 year old byzantine church in the heart of Istanbul. The pyramids at Giza, where I lectured this weekend, is still another. Crafted by nature or by the hand of man, sacred spaces hold an-other-worldly, unspeakable magnificence about them. And, by simply being there, if just for moment, these spaces shift your world in some small but meaningful way. You walk away a little different than when you arrived.
While lecturing in the Middle East this week, I found another sacred space: The Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi. Built of marbled stone, it occupies a city block. It is at once grand and humble, ancient and modern, lofty yet real. A superb balance of the dramatic and monumental, with the unadorned simplicity of the nomadic and arid desert.
As a physician and surgeon, I’m privileged to experience the sacred in my everyday life. What is more sacred than having a patient’s soul revealed to you in all of its glory, or suffering? Hard to get more sacrosanct than receiving the complete trust of another human being, whose health or even life depends on your decisions or incisions. A salute to the sacred places and spaces in our lives.