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Did you ever wonder why some places seem so special? How is it that some spots are sites of the miraculous? What are the dynamics of Heaven?

There is the grotto at Lourdes.

There is the chapel of the Miraculous Medal.

There is the chapel at Fatima. There is Mount Tabor.

There is Mount Kricevac in Hercegovina.

It's curious how so many of these places involve mountains -- or at least highlands.

Lourdes is in the Pyrenees. Fatima is on a hill. So was Guadalupe. LaSalette is atop a 10,000-foot mountain (in the French Alps)! In Spain are sites way up in the Cantabrians. Years ago, I visited an apparition higher yet in the Andes of Ecuador. There is Montserrat.

Christ transfigured on a mountain, and we all know where Moses received the Ten Commandments. It certainly seems like height plays into the picture. But it is not only highlands. There are anointed places, where it is like the Finger of God has deigned to touch the earth. Call them "portals." At Betania, Venezuela, which the Church has declared as "sacred ground," an apparition met with formal approval at this spot where all kinds of phenomena -- sun miracles, lights forming holy figures like Mary, and healings -- abound. It is a place that may have been designated since the beginning of time though it also had been a place of worship (Betania means "Bethany"; see The Bridge to Heaven).

At Fatima, to this day, unusual sights are seen in the skies. Ditto for Lourdes (where I saw the clouds form an uncanny Crucifixion scene). There are spots -- large and small -- that seem like midway points between earth and Heaven. Some occur spontaneously -- simply through the Will of God, as if preordained. Others seem holy because of the prayers that are sunk into them. With much deep prayer, any shrine and any home and any room (at least to a point) can become a special sanctuary. Certainly every Adoration chapel is "halfway" to eternity. How the veil thins (and especially this time of year)!

In Brazil is a highland known where one visitor claimed to see all the rocks glowing green (as perhaps in Heaven). This was also reported in Puerto Rico with a waterfall. Of course, one has to be careful; the devil will also "anoint" places.

Out in Colorado are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains -- named for the Blood of Jesus, though there is also a spot there developed as a New Age center.

In the high parts of New Mexico are what seem like holy spots (and also less than holy ones like Los Alamos).

In Arizona is Sedona.

In the Rockies is Boulder (again, heavily New Age).

A spiritual dynamic is played out.

It goes beyond our comprehension.

It often involves mountains.

Recently we carried the story of what seems like an anointed place near St. Mary, Pennsylvania (again, on a hill, and called Mount Zion). There are similar high points in California -- although there are also places like Mount Shasta and Big Sur that, again, have partly fallen into New Age hands.

Mountains somehow reach toward or interface with the supernatural in a way that seems to go beyond the geophysical. In North Carolina is a place called Prayer Mountain that's valued by some Protestants as a special place of prayer and where it's claimed (certainly, for discernment) that leaves have been covered with what seems like a fine "gold" dust, along with rocks that appear illuminated. This all was reported when in "foolish obedience" to a "word" from the Lord an evangelist brought back a rock from that place in Brazil. Healings and other miracles are alleged. It is a place where men of old had devoutly prayed (or so it is asserted). Superstition? There are other "prayer mountains" in Missouri and out in South Korea and many other places; Buddhists have long been drawn to the Himalayas.

"They, as an act of obedience, planted the rock and thought no more about it," writes Lois Hosher in a book called The Spirit of the Soul about that case in North Carolina. "Quite some time passed when they decided to build the lodge and move to the mountain.

"One day a group of people came to the mountain, and along with their youth leaders, asked if it would be okay for them to spend the night on the mountain in prayer. He told them they could, and if they needed to come down in the night to feel free to come into the lodge. He said that in the middle of the night he heard pounding at the door. When they opened it, some of these young people were standing there holding a huge log they had carried down the mountain. It was glowing green, just like the rock had been in Brazil. Of course, these young people knew nothing about the rock that had been planted or the story behind it. They said that everything on top of the mountain was glowing like the log. The rocks and the ground were covered with this green glow."

We have also heard this from an apparition site.

Strange indeed.

To be discerned. At least, perhaps we have this lesson of "foolish obedience."

How often (after prayer) do we act on what we are "told"? Do we move ahead in faith -- or intellectualize things to the point where we miss the anointing?

Ask God for insight, as did Lois.

"I had asked the Lord on the way to the mountain to reveal to me the open portal to Heaven," she writes. "I went out on the deck and stood overlooking the field behind the lodge. I was just singing and worshipping the Lord as I looked at the beauty all around me. All at once, I saw what looked like a huge silo appear in the field. It seemed to be made out of mother-of-pearl and it glistened in the sunlight. As I looked at this sight, it began to raise up and expand until the entire mountain was covered with this huge tunnel. The light that was coming out of it was blinding to the natural eye. I said, 'Lord, what are you showing me?' He then said, 'This is the 'open portal' over this mountain."

It is through "portals," perhaps, that we one day leave this earth, and through such portals that angels pour into our realm.

-- Michael H. Brown

[resources: Holy Land pilgrimage in November and The Bridge to Heaven]

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