29 June 2010

sacred space

Since we moved and acquired an additional 320 square feet of space, I've been wanting to set up a space in our home that in my mind, I could only describe as sacred. What I was thinking of was basically an altar: a place to sit quietly, to reflect, to pray. While I know that God is everywhere and that we are never confined by time or space in terms of speaking with Him, I felt an increasing need and urgency for this.

Even though I could not quite understand it, I wanted a spot that, when I saw it, would remind me to stop and pray.

While speaking with a deacon at our church this past weekend, he spoke about how while even the Israelites understood God to be omnipresent, they were in the habit of pointing out a rock, setting up a pile of stones, or recognizing a sacred space in the temple and this space was understood to mark the presence of God. When He is everywhere at all times, it made sense to me to need a place like this -- to say: This is where I meet with God. He is everywhere, and this place is how I remember that He is here.

The space is simple: just a bookshelf I've had with me for awhile set up near the entry way of our home, behind the couch. On it, I have a couple of candles, a rosary, and an iron cross, as well some icons: Jesus, Joseph, and the Theotokos (Mary, the Mother of God). It gives me something to focus on visually and is a reminder of to Whom I speak.

Also present there is some Blessed Saint Pio oil, a sacramental that my sister-in-law sent to us to aid in our prayers for healing. Saint Pio is a recent saint in the church's history and many miraculous healings have been attributed to his intercession both during his earthly life, and after it. The oil is a third-class relic, meaning that it has been touched to either a first- or second- class relic. In this case, it means that the oil has been in contact with one of the saint's gloves and the blood from his stigmata.

I use it when I'm praying for Ewan.

I've only used this space for a couple of days, but I already notice a slowing happening in me when I use it. I don't rush out the door like I used to. I speak to God openly and from my heart, but in a way I haven't before. I listen more. I'm quiet more. And I experience His presence there.

What about you? Do you have a special time or space that you use to be quiet? I'd love to hear how you carve out time and/or space in your home or somewhere else for yourself to think, pray, meditate, etc.


  1. This is beautiful, my friend. I can feel the slowing and the sacred in your words. It's special to hear how you pray for Ewan there, and with the oil. I'm blessed by the way your heart is communing with God in a new way, too.

    My sacred space is my desk in the corner of the studio. I can usually tell how my relationship with God is going by the amount of time I'm spending (or not spending) there. I have a yoga mat that I often am compelled to pull out of the closet as a type of prayer mat, and sometimes I even remove my shoes and glasses when I sit or kneel on it to pray. And then there's the desk itself, where I read the psalms, and write and pray, and often break into heartfelt worship.

    It's special and sacred to me.

  2. Love this, and love your space, not to mention what it's doing in your heart.

    I don't have a space quite like this, but I do have more of a sacred time. I go to work a little early every morning just to pray. Crazy, I know, but it helps me bring God into my work. And it's quiet, with easy morning light and I get to pray. I know my heart is well when I stop and pray, and not so well when I don't take that time.

  3. So lovely... especially the Pio oil - what a special gift and thing to use for prayer.

    I have little spaces like this scattered all around my bedroom. Currently though, my favorite reminder to pray is on the desk in my parent's basement that is serving as my "office" for studying. It's an antique Catholic prayer book, in Spanish. A gift from a very dear friend who knows my heart well, and knew that this was an item that would be deeply meaningful and remind me continually of the dreams God had placed on my heart and the callings of Him on my life, and challenge me to be lifting those things and all those I love continually before Him.

  4. It looks great! I'd love to have a space like that someday, I've always wanted a cozy chair and side table by a window where I'm actually lured in to curl up and read and pray! :0)

  5. I like your space! I recently set up a space like this under my bedroom window. All I did was clear my jewelry box off a small piece of furniture. (A furniture cube with two drawers and a top, about the size of a large night table.)

    On the surface I placed a 5" standing pewter cross with glass accents, a couple framed bible verses, two votive candles and my bible. The only new item I bought for this setup was the cross.

    In the drawers I tucked away a little bag with some prewritten prayers, some verses wives might want to pray for their husbands and an old prayer book my mother had since she was a child. Note: I say "spontaneous" prayers in this space too.

    My boom box and some classical CDs are nearby; I got the CDs cheap at a yard sale.

    It has really made a difference in my creativity and serenity. Of course I pray in all places and at all times, but having a dedicated space is like a touchstone, a "home base" to come back to throughout the day. (I work at home.) It's almost like a prayer docking station. Like I'm this little pod moving and praying about my house, but when I need to get recharged in one central space, I can return to the docking station.

  6. @Christianne
    Thank you for your sweet comment my friend. It gives me peace to hear about your own space and how you use it: the mat, the removing of shoes and glasses, the way you humble yourself in that space. The way you connect. It's such a beautiful thing.

    That is great to hear that you have that time!! Carving out time is so crucial for any practice like this to work. I'm glad you have it, even in the most unexpected of places -- and perhaps one of the most appropriate, as a reminder to keep God in your work.

    Blessings, friend.

    The St. Pio oil is special. We were asking for his prayers prior to receiving the oil, so we definitely count it as something special to aid our prayers.

    I loved hearing about the antique prayer book. What a sacred piece of history, and a reminder of those who have prayed those prayers (or even used that book) before. I love how this calls to mind for you the calling God has on your life. So beautiful!

    I like your idea of what that space would be like!! Currently I'm sitting on the floor here, so having a nice cozy chair sounds wonderful!! :o)

    I remember you mentioning here before about carving out this space for yourself. I love how you used things you already had around you to create your "docking station" -- totally love that analogy, by the way. A place to recharge and reboot. I love how you describe that space: a central space, a touchstone.

    It was actually you mentioning your own space in a previous post that got me thinking of doing it in my own home. So thanks for the inspiration!!

  7. I love this! I would love to have a bench somewhere in our home where we could kneel and pray. I've also had this little dream of building a small prayer house on our property. Something just big enough to go in and pray. You have made a beautiful space, Kirsten!

  8. Can't say that I have one right now. But my cup of green tea in the morning on the back porch comes pretty close :)

  9. @Tea
    Ooh, I love the idea of having a whole prayer house -- it sounds like it would be such a sanctuary, what you envision.

    Sounds perfect to me. ;o)

  10. Oooh, I love your shelf! I've been thinking about putting more symbols into my home as well. Lately I've been making my first and last thoughts of the day a sacred space for meditation. Although I'm not Catholic, I love so many things about the Catholic tradition, and I've also been contemplating buying a rosary.

    P.S. I work at the Kirkland Ladro, and I would LOVE to meet you in person! I'm usually there Mon, Tues from 12 - 5, Sat 10am - 4pm, Sun 5:30 - 9. =)

  11. Kirsten -- Since I've been out the past few months, I didn't know about Ewan. Your courage and love brought me to tears when I read your posts about your son. I'm praying for you, your husband, and of course, your son.