“We yearn for rest, and our souls hunger to be fed, yet we seldom give ourselves permission to respond to these yearnings.” The answer to this dilemma, say authors Gerrie l. Grimsley and Jane J. Young,* is to create a sacred space. A carefully designed personal quiet space will provide a shift of attention that will “unveil a feast of the sacred” in the midst of an ordinary day.
My friend Sally wrote about her “feast of the sacred” quiet space recently:
“I have a new bowl. It’s a beautiful sea blue bowl made by my quirky sister-in-law who is an amazing potter. Every Christmas she brings the left over pottery that hasn’t sold and spreads it out on the table for us to select something we would like. I chose a colored bowl and even though I had no idea what I would do with it as it’s not a bowl for eating cereal out of, I loved it. As I wandered around the house with the bowl in hand one day, it landed on top of a table from my parent’s home. On the other side of the chair is a table from my in-law’s home. That corner is my sanctuary. It is my place of quiet, where I read or writ or address cards.
In my bowl, I have put the precious items from my altar – little cards with special sayings on them, a bookmark, a crumpled picture of a butterfly, a silver frog, some pieces of bark. Each one has special meaning and story. Some items have no story yet; they are just part of the journey. I’m very grateful for my new bowl. While I don’t look in it every often, I know what’s there. I know the treasures that help keep me centered and focused and quiet. I know the words that focus my thoughts. They all adorn my place of surrender.”
I have a very different sacred space: my writing room. It started out with an 8-foot table given to me by a friend who wanted me to concentrate on my writing. The table is lined with Bibles, binders, magazine holders, booklets, stationery items and also holds my lap top – everything resource I need when I create, read, or prepare to teach.
When the table was in place, I hauled in a five-shelf bookcase, filled it with my favorite books and topped it with sweet little candles left over from a volunteer celebration. Next came a two-shelf bookcase placed under the window,covered with photos of my grandchildren and filled with more favorite books along with a blue and white mug that shouts “I am free” painted by an Apprentice teacher. Next arrived three favorite plants, a unique painting of a cross given to me by my secretary when I retired, two posters about discipleship which I covered in glass and framed, framed copies of the Serenity Prayer and the Lord Make me an Instrument of thy Peace prayer and a colorful quote by Oswald Chambers on living in the inspiration that God gives us.
Over my table are a colorful calendar, pictures of friends and family, a purple paper butterfly that reminds me of transformation, a sheet of positive comments from my blog for when I wonder why I bother, pictures colored by my Compassion children, etc. And as I shut the door to this sanctuary, I see a dozen cards taped to the back of it to remind me of the prayer and love flowing for me and to me as I journey with cancer.
Every day I sit for hours in my comfy office chair with a pillow for back support and an afghan made by my mother for warmth. Most of the time I read and write, but sometimes I just sit and gaze out the window at the crab apple tree in my front yard or the pond across the street. Sometimes I focus on one of my favorite things and contemplate the abundance in my life with gratitude.
Do you have a sacred space? I’d love to hear about it. Send a description in a comment so we can all get ideas about creating a special place to rest and surrender.
*Their book Contemplative by Design gives inspiration and direction for creating quiet spaces for retreats, workshops, churches, and personal settings. It can be purchased at the Upper Room on-line bookstore.