Great Faces, Great Places . . . Holy Spaces July, 1990

The South Dakota State Department of Tourism has adopted the theme,” Great Faces, Great Places,” as its motto for the 199O’s. The slogan refers to Mount Rushmore and the varied and scenic beauty of South Dakota. With tourism as the number one industry in South Dakota, both state government and business leaders are becoming more intentional in their efforts to market our state to visitors.

Certain advantages may result from these efforts. One such advantage might be to educate non-South Dakotans as to the topogra­phy and geography of the state, perhaps resulting in Rand McNally’s including the state once again in its official publication. Such efforts might well increase awareness as to the rich diversity and variety that characterize the people and landscape of South Dakota. Such aware­ness may also bring with it new found pride in our state with a hoped for result that we might better care for our “Great Places” by removing much of the commercial graffiti in the form of billboards that mar and scar the beauty of our vast expanses.

It has been my experience that visitors to South Dakota are rarely ambivalent about South Dakota as a “Place” or “Space.” Reactions vary from feelings of intimidation born of the vast horizons and sense of openness and solitude to feelings of exultation, joy and release, given the same expansiveness and sense of limitless possibil­ity.

Whereas other parts of the upper Midwest rarely evoke strong reactions, South Dakota tends to touch aspects of our collective pre-conscious or unconscious experience of “spatiality.” Spatiality is our lived experience of space. It is the opposite of the abstraction of the ontological reality of space through quantifying, measuring or domi­neering land or space. Spatiality has to do with the existential connection to and with occupying, embodying and incarnating par­ticular spaces.

The unpredictable and at times violent climate of the state further instills a sense of anxiety, excitement and, at times, sheer fear. Talk about weather in South Dakota is not “small talk” or idle conversation. Weather is a life and death matter…literally. As I share these thoughts, I find myself driving across the eastern part of the state heading west. A typical late May early June rain intermittently dots the windshield of my car. Beneath the feelings of appreciation for the much needed moisture, there are also feelings of growing anxiety. Will this be one of those rains that turns into a violent storm complete with high winds, hail and the potential for tornadoes? Where does one find shelter from the elements, given the treeless horizon and sea of prairie grass that allows one to see clearly approaching storms but offers no protection or shelter from the impending forces of wind and rain?

South Dakota is a place of “Holy Spaces.” From the tranquility of glacial lakes in the northeast to the openness of the grasslands to the sense of mysterium tremendum in the Badlands to the sacred quiet of Paha Sapa (Black Hills), one has a sense that South Dakota is indeed a holy land. One can still find vast areas relatively untouched by human development. Accompanying the experience of these holy places one has a sense of timelessness, a solitude that discloses God’s presence. The ceaseless wind across the state heightens the sense of God’s presence in remembering spirit as pneuma and ruah in feeling God’s breath. In such places the experience of incarnation brings with it a sense of ecstasy, fascination, fear, awe and trembling. Incarnation ceases to be a tame theological construct and becomes an act of vibrant and cosmic force. The land invites participation. It beckons one to walk the plains, ride through the Badlands on horseback, hike in the Hills, touch and embrace the earth. It is a land that elicits and demands a response.

From time to time, in the months ahead, I would like to share with you what are for me some of the “Holy Spaces” in this land of “Great Places” and “Great Faces.” I find that I am energized by the land am called to travel it, not as an unfortunate aspect of the job of being a Bishop in a large geographic diocese, but rather as a special aspect of the vocation of “over-sight” that comes with Episcope in South Dakota. Such oversight is not only that of people, churches, institutions and programs but also being open to God’s presence and incarnate reality as it is revealed in those “Holy Spaces.”

It is also a call to care for such Holy Space through recogniz­ing “oversight” as the ministry of care and stewardship. Such a theological travelogue will by its very nature be subjective and personal. In so sharing, it is my hope that it will invite participation and pilgrimages to some of the “Holy Spaces” that I will attempt to describe; describe not only in terms of topographic features but also theological realities. In so sharing I would welcome your response, as well as invitations to visit “Holy Spaces” that you know of in our diocese.

While tourism is not the business of the Church, perhaps part of our tasks as evangelists in this Decade of Evangelism and L.I.F.E. (Leadership In Faithful Evangelism) is to share the message and mystery of the beauty of South Dakota as a place and space wherein God dwells, a place of rugged beauty where we experience “Great Faces” not only carved in stone but experience the face of God in the land that God has created.

The Cosmic Order

Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord,

O heavens and all waters above the heavens.

Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew, all winds and fire and heat.

Winter and summer, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, drops of dew and flakes of snow.

Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O nights and days,

O shining light and enfolding dark,

Storm Clouds and thunderbolts, glorify the Lord,

praise him and highly exalt him for ever.


The Earth and its Creatures

Let the earth glorify the Lord,

praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,

and all that grows upon the earth,

praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas and streams

O whales and all that move in the waters.

All birds of the air, glorify the Lord,

praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild,

and all you flocks and herds.

Omen and women everywhere, glorify the Lord,

praise him and highly exalt him for ever.


This entry was posted in Articles by Bishop Anderson, Publications and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.