Creating a sacred space in your home.
By Rev Elizabeth Raine
Minister at Tuggeranong Uniting Church and Chair of PRC.
As people of faith in these dispersed times, it can be important to set aside a space in your home or room where you can come before God in prayer, explore the questions that may arise in the of your life, and spend time exploring scripture in meditation or silence. Your sacred space should be a place where you can strengthen your relationship with God and find strength for yourself in these uncertain times.
Even if you can only stop for a few minutes a day, having a space for quiet reflection in your home serves as a reminder that it is important to continue to nurture our faith in the absence of any organised worship.
The Christian tradition of the West has generally focussed our spiritual life very much on communal worship and learning, such as attending Sunday services and engaging in Bible study. While these are indeed important events in our faith development and practice, they are not the only way we can worship and learn.
People have created sacred places in many different forms and places throughout history. Sacred spaces can be large, like landscapes, or have natural or created structures such as Stonehenge, Uluru, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
A sacred landscape can be sacred to people or communities because of something that took place there. Modern sacred places that would fit this description include
Ground Zero, Anzac Cove, and the grotto at Lourdes.
Other religious and communal examples of sacred spaces include labyrinths, meditation gardens, cemeteries, and churches, mosques, temples or synagogues.
In the absence of these, making sacred space or a personal altar will help you set aside some time dedicated to your spiritual growth and well being.
The first step is to find a peaceful and uncluttered area in your home or a corner in your room. Sacred spaces should be places that allow you to relax, and where you won't be interrupted by someone entering or exiting a room.
Think about why you want a sacred space. What needs are you hoping to meet? What sort of things are you wanting to do? Are you seeking to deepen your spiritual life or enhance your relationship with God? Do you need a place where you can lament for things temporarily lost? Or do you just need a place to have some quiet reflective time during a stressful day?
Will your space be a place of dreaming or reading? Will it be a refuge from all the responsibilities and current distractions around you? Is it a place that will help you put aside the fear and uncertainties of the world? Or is it a place that will provide you with fresh energy and insight into the world? Please take some time to pray and discern what it is you want your sacred space to be for you.
Think about what things you would like in your space. What do you find meaningful and what things will help you connect with God? Some suggestions include a small vase with flowers, a cross or icon, a bible, photographs or pictures, a coloured cloth to reflect the liturgical season and a candle. All of us have meaningful objects in our homes. You may well enjoy a hunt through boxes and drawers to find that special object.
In your chosen space, place a small low table or something similar to hold the special things you have chosen. Place a cushion or comfortable seat in front of your table. Make this place one that invites prayer, ritual and reflection, and allow it to change over time as your needs evolve.
Try to spend time in your space every day -- whether it is for 30 seconds in the morning or a half hour meditation at night. Use your space to pray for the day ahead, to express gratitude or to lament, or to discern what God might be saying to you. You might like to keep a journal nearby to write down or sketch any thoughts, images or inspired ideas that come to you.
There is no right or wrong way to create and use your sacred space; it is there to help you connect personally with God, with yourself, and with the world around you in meaningful ways. Think of your sacred space as a beautiful gift that you can give yourself every day, helping you to deepen your faith and relationship with God, to put things into a proper perspective. The more you use your space, the more you will find it providing you with unexpected blessings.
The photo above is of the sacred space that John and I have created in our home in this time of isolation. The cross is a Celtic one from the Western Hebrides, and the illuminated picture is one my late aunt created, and it shows the symbols of the four gospels. We also have a purple candle and cloth to signify we are in Lent. The bible is opened each week at the gospel reading from the Lectionary.
You may like to share a photo of your sacred space with your local congregation to build community, and to share your faith with one another.