Tonight I watched an episode of Globetrekker on PBS, a show in which intrepid young people do budget travel in remote areas of the world. In this episode, a young woman traveling in Egypt visits a monestary.
Egypt was one of the earliest places where Christianity took hold and the monastery at St Antony's, three hours to the south east of Cairo, was reputedly the very first monastery. St Antony lived as a hermit in a nearby cave for twenty years. -- Taken from http://www.globetrekkertv.com
Father Lazarus is now a hermit monk in the Egyptian desert. Earlier in his life, he was a lecturer at a university. He says that he used to be an atheist in Australia, but his mother's deathbed experiences convinced him there was more. He lives in the middle of a vast desert area in a cave in the same mountain in which St. Anthony lived as a hermit. He has one tiny area that is his dwelling, and one tiny adjacent area that is a sort of shrine hollowed out into the rock. He commented that "prayer does not just evaporate" and described the mountain as "saturated with prayer".
Can a place be saturated with what is done in it? Are there places that are considered holy because they have been prayed in so often? If prayer lingers, what else lingers?
Can a place become saturated with war, or with love or with joy or rage?
I have been in a Jesuit retreat center. It felt different. Intentionally contemplative space feels somehow qualitatively different from merely quiet space. Can it be that the intentions felt in a place linger and touch us, affect us? A friend of mine who is a Rolfer is fond of saying that "intention is healing". Can it be that is what it means to saturate a place with a given energy or feeling or prayer -- that we somehow communicate our deepest intention, even after we leave? That what we feel impacts more than just our feelings?
I have felt this at fleeting moments in Nature, in sacred places, at places like the Vietnam War Memorial Wall -- that somehow the feelings of others who have gone before me linger in a way that I experience the very edge of them. Or it may be that these feelings of others that saturate an area, draw forth like feelings from me.
If it is true that what we feel or what we do, leaves some sort of intangible "footprint" on an area, we may all need to be more focused about our intentions, for our sakes and for the sake of others.