In the eyes of God, there are no RESERVED Places

Paul Veliyathil
3 min readMar 5, 2023

Our tendency to confine holiness to humanly constructed places, specific peoples and unique situations is best illustrated by a story from preacher Tony Campolo.

One day, during a passionate sermon about global poverty, he said: Ten thousand children will go to bed hungry tonight, and nobody cares a shit about it.

Some people were so offended by his use of the word shit inside a church.

And they began to walk out of the church during the sermon. Knowing why they were leaving, he asked them:

Are you offended by my use of the word shit or by the fact that ten thousand children will go to bed hungry tonight?

He knew that they were offended because he used a bad word in church.

We should expand our minds to extend the grace of holiness to all places and every situation regardless of how unholy they appear to be by traditional norms.

It is time to break down the barrier between holy and unholy places, the separation between sacred and secular.

Open your eyes to see every inch of this divinely created and God-permeated planet as holy ground.

It is the presence of a Holy God that makes a location holy.

Yes, our world is so breathtakingly beautiful and painfully broken. And God is in both places. Trying to separate the world by marking off large areas as unholy, ungodly, and filled with terrorists, rapists, and murderers is not going to change the world.

When you do that, you are assuming that God is not in those places. We must realize that we cannot contain or control God within our assumptions and algorithms.

It is impossible to make this world a godly place when we take God out of the equation because the entire creation is the body of God.

I wrote before that it is hard to believe that a bar where people are drunk, and profanities are exchanged is holy ground. As a matter of fact, it is exactly in a bar that one of my favorite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor, once found God.

As an episcopal priest, she has presided over many liturgies using incense. She saw a connection between the incense smoke rising above the altar and the smoke-filled bar where she had waited tables years earlier. She writes about experiencing the mysterium tremendum — the tremendous mystery of God, both at the bar and in the church.

Later, when I stood in front of an altar waving incense, I would remember standing in front of the bar at Dante’s, waving cigarette smoke out of my face, and the exact same feeling of tenderness would wash over me because the people in both places were so much alike…Sometimes I wondered if it even mattered whether our communion cups were filled with consecrated wine or draft beer, as long as we bent over them long enough to recognize each other as kin.

Our notion of holy ground should expand beyond the four walls of a church or a mosque or a temple and extend to all corners of the Earth.

As Al Gore, former Vice-President and environmental activist rightly observed in his book, Earth in Balance:

The simple fact of the living world and our place in it evokes awe, wonder, a sense of mystery — a spiritual response — when one reflects on its deeper meaning. People experience God in every corner of creation.

In the eyes of God, there are no reserved places. The Earth that God created and found to be good, should not be any less good and holy to us.

(from Cosmic Kindergarten: Earthly Lessons for a Heavenly Life)

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Paul Veliyathil

I am a citizen of India by birth, a citizen of the united states by choice and a citizen of the world at heart.