by Charles LaFond “Tenemos” is a Greek word originally referring to the cultivated land that wrapped around the temple – a set-aside bit of holy garden one had to cross in order to enter the temple. The tenemos was like the moat that wraps around a castle. Our senses, touch, sight, and hearing are that same tenemos – that same temple-garden, which is the gateway from physical life to the spiritual world within and around us.
One day I was walking near the pond of my New Hampshire writing retreat, Blackwater Bluff, and there was a heavy mist on the ground clinging close to the tall grasses and bright yellow wild orchids. The mist was only a few feet high. I sat down so as to be engulfed in the mist – it was like entering a moist, foggy world where vision was nearly impossible – and mysterious. Then I stood up and my head pushed back up into the clarity above the mist, and I could see shapes and colors and beauty again at a long distance. Suddenly I began to understand the spiritual life not as something we attain, way out in front of us, like some reward for self-discipline or heavenly peace; nor the finish line of a race. Rather, I began to understand what the early Christian Celtic mystics were saying about the spiritual life and the physical life being parallel – one atop the other, and each within reach.
The Celtic priests referred to heaven as being a foot above one’s reach. Our Roman Christian heritage has trained us that, like the altar in our great cathedral, the HOLY is way, way, way up there, way beyond the floor where we are allowed to sit, way up those great steps, up past that rood screen, past the choir stalls, past the altar rail (designed as a barrier) and way up around the “high altar” where only priests may roam in cassocks. But that is a lie.
Read it all HERE at Episcopal Cafe or at the Daily Sip, a ministry of St John’s Cathedral in Denver, CO