I visited The Grotto, a Catholic sanctuary in Portland, this last weekend.

My intention was to enjoy a walk in a slightly unusual park, but I soon noticed that the place had a very different effect on me.

As I approached the grotto, there was a sense of the atmosphere thickening and of a strong presence. I noticed that sense of a fiery love I am familiar with when I do Christian prayer and meditation. A sense of a fiery love in my heart, on top of the head (visible as a light flame shape on top of the head in the energy system), in my belly, and really throughout the field of experience. Even if the visit was short, about 40 minutes, I felt as if I had done a long retreat, and a sense of deep peace stayed with me the rest of the day and for a couple of days afterward.

All of these are nice experiences in themselves.

And beyond that, they serve as a reminder of and invitation to practice.

The alive and strong presence is a reminder of the infinite support that is always here, in many different ways.

The fiery love has a quality that can be brought into my relationship with myself and others.

The shift into peacefulness is an invitation to use that more stable attention for prayer, inquiry, and in my relationship with myself and others.

Less importantly, there is the question of why this experience came up for me. It definitely seemed to be something about the place, perhaps created through the prayers, intention, and receptivity of the ones taking care of the place or visiting. It could be my own expectations, or recognizing this as an opportunity to shift into what I shifted into. Or, most likely, a combination.


  • grotto
    • fire, fiery quality, fiery love
    • top of head, in heart, and also in belly

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