When you think of a sacred space, do you think of a church? A special room in your home? A place in nature?
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.
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:
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 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?
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!