What Makes A Sacred Space?

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When you think of a sacred space, do you think of a church? A special room in your home? A place in nature?

What Makes a Sacred Space?Sweet Hippie Daughter has been involved in a drama program at a nearby university for the past 4 years.  When we started she was in the first grade and she was getting in trouble Every. Single. Day.

She wanted to be a robot or a martian or (this one lasted quite a while) a wolf.  She would not accept her teacher’s statement that she was, “a little girl pretending to be a wolf.”  She would dig her heels in a demand, “No! I AM a wolf!”

Personally, I sided with SHD. Be a wolf. Why not? You’re only 6 years old once. Live it up!

But we hadn’t taken the homeschool plunge yet and teachers don’t have time to deal with 30 kids who walk on all fours and bark their math answers and she was coming home, every day, devastated that she’d gotten her “card pulled” again and I was one exasperated mother.  No doubt everyone else involved was feeling exasperated as well.

And then we had the first day of “college theater class,” as SHD called it then.

We walked in and the teacher said, with a huge smile, “Well, hello! Have you come to play with us?”

SHD smiled back. “Yes!” Then her smile faded a little and a look of suspicion crossed her face and she said, “I’m a wolf.”

The teacher gasped and put her hand on her heart, “Are you?”  She leaned in closely and stage-whispered, “I’m a skunk. Pleased to meet you.”

I could literally see a physical change occur in my child at that moment.  Her eyes light up and she stood a little taller and the tension in her tiny shoulders relaxed and she went loping happily into the classroom where she would spend one afternoon a week for the next several years.

She never got in trouble at school over the “wolf” issue again.

What Makes A Sacred Space?

Over the past few years people have asked me about the drama program and I always rave.  It is a place where children are drawn into imagination. It helps kids have the confidence to stand in front of a group. It teaches them to stand tall and project their voice to an audience.  It fosters friendships. It helps them think on their feet. They learn how to memorize.

But I was frustrated because, while the class is/does all of those things, it is something more.  And that something is what makes it so much more than just another class or club that we are a part of. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on how to express that.

Then, this past weekend, the program held their 50th anniversary reception and my daughter’s teacher stood on the platform and said this:

I was getting ready for today and I asked someone how I should decorate – what we should do to make the room special – and she said, “That room is sacred space. You don’t need to do anything to it.  Just returning to the space where, as children, we could come and be ourselves and express ourselves completely without fear of judgement will be special enough. It is sacred space. It does not need decoration.”

I had tears streaming down my face and, as I glanced around, I was not the only one.  That was it!  That was what I had been trying to explain to people for the past 4 years.

That big, empty, plain, gray, cinder-block room was holy ground for my child because, in that space, she was free to shed the armor that we all instinctively wear and shine with the light her Creator had given her without worry that anyone would try to put it out or change her to fit their idea of who she should be. It wasn’t the building, of course. It was the love and acceptance of the people she interacted with in that space.

It is how I feel in my church.  I am me. I am broken and forgetful and flakey and creative and loud and I have different theological beliefs than many of the people there.  I am striving to learn and grow and be a better person but they love me today, just as I am. I felt it the first time I walked in the door.

In that space, I don’t need to pretend. I can be me and I can give my love freely and it will be received and returned.

The Bible says:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John, chapter 4, verses 7-8)

For me, the love that I experience in church is what makes it a sacred space.

Handsome Hippie Hubby loves our church too, but for him, sacred space is found in the most remote spaces in nature.

We all have those places that speak to our hearts and make us feel connected to that which is greater than us, not because of anything special about the physical location, but because of… something more.  Which is kind-of what “sacred” is all about, isn’t it?

And so I wonder. What do you think? What makes a place sacred?

What Makes A Space Sacred?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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16 responses »

  1. I love the idea that the big empty room was sacred not for what it was, but for what it allowed others to become. I agree, a sacred place transform you…. it allows you to be the true you. And that is a beautiful thing

  2. One of my sacred spaces is my kitchen/hearth room. In my kitchen I prepare celebrations for friends and family. I also release my frustrations by chopping and stirring and sometimes dripping tears in the soup. It is on the kitchen table where flowers await me after a concert or love notes are discovered in the morning. It is where I find my husband when I come home from work. Frequently I am by myself in my kitchen and it is a wonderful place to think and dream. In my kitchen, I can take something ordinary and make something extraordinary. Like watching dough turn to cookies or milk turn to ice-cream, or bones old vegetables become stock. Sometimes I open a spice jar or take a vegetable from the fridge, or smell something baking or cooking and marvel at the awesomeness of God and His creation. My kitchen is the place where I have had wonderful conversations with my nieces and nephews, sometimes while cooking together. Many glasses of wine and lots of cookies have been shared in my kitchen! On the bookshelves in my kitchen are treasured recipes and important items from both our mothers, grandparents, friends, and family. It is where my most comfortable chair is. It is a place where I continue to learn and experiment. And for some reason, it is where I am not afraid to make a mistake. I am there now with a dog on my lap, a fire going, the dishwasher humming, a view of the snow on the balcony, a pile of cooking magazines and a empty menu planner for the coming week. Bliss.

  3. I love this post and I love how the teacher and everyone else views the place. Having a space where you can truly be yourself and be loved is amazing.

    I’d have to say my sacred space moves around a bit, for me it’s where I feel God’s presence. Sometimes thats at my desk staring out the window and others it’s in the car taking in the amazing nature and sky around me. Still there are the times at church when I am so overwhelmed by his presence that there can be no doubt that I am in a sacred holy place.

  4. As a child of that drama program, where my children have experienced that drama program, I was sad to not be able to make it to the 50th anniversary, but nothing could be more accurate. It is a sacred place where we were cocconed and made into immediate butterflies and that experience gave me wings!

  5. Beautiful comments from all. We are truly blessed by this space and the powerful experiences that are transformed there. And, for the record we always have room for more!! Love to you all!!!

  6. I just love, love, love that instead of squelching your daughter’s spirit, you found a way for her to express herself. We are starting the homeschool journey, and it’s so encouraging to read posts like this, and to know that we will be able to teach our kids in the way that is best for them! I know it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!
    As for sacred spaces, there are a few that pop to mind for me, and one is the camp where I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I’m actually so excited to be going there this summer for the first time with my kids! Just thinking about the place makes me fill up with joy!

  7. Great post! To me, a sacred place is any place that God meets me. Don’t laugh but I used to call my van, “my sanctuary”, as it was often there while praise music was blasting that God seemed so close to me. It is where He often heard my prayers. I am so glad that I stopped here this morning from the SITS! I love the quote from the drama teacher! Have a great Saturday!

  8. This is a wonderful post. I agree that everyone needs that sacred space where they can be themselves without criticism. My stepdaughter’s space would be the art studio she attends. She is definitely more confident and stands taller as soon as she walks though the doors.

    Stopping by with comment love from the SITS girls.

  9. Wonerfully, wonderfully said. I agree that a “sacred place” is something individual… it just isn’t the same for everyone. I am so happy that SDH has found hers, and I am happy that her drama teacher thinks it is great that she is a wolf. A drama class is one place where being a wolf should never be questioned (unless you are Little Red Riding Hood or one of the Three Little Pigs).

  10. I think a sacred place is individual to each of us, as well, but I do work hard to make our dining room in our home the place where we can gather, share with each other and support each other. It’s one of the reasons I work so hard to make sure we eat together daily and that extracurriculars and other events don’t interfere with our family dinner time.

  11. I’m not sure what makes a sacred space, but this makes me want to put my daughter into a drama program! She declares that she is a unicorn, a princess, or a turtle on a regular basis!!

  12. My bathroom. I know that sounds kinda weird but I love soaking in a hot bubble bath and there is where most of my prayer s are sent and it’s uninterrupted quiet time.
    -Elle
    coming from the Comment Love Tribe

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