Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Experimenting with Sacred Space

We are starting something new at Vintage. We are obliterating small groups as we have known them. No longer are we going to get together to do Bible studies and spent more time yapping. We are abandoning the old small group convention for this radical idea that we actually do stuff together. You know, not just being hearers of the word but doers also. We are calling them Experimental Collectives, and we're relying heavily on the wonderful work of our friend Mark Scandrette to help us reimagine what it means for us to gather together during the week.

Our Oversight Team and a few others are spending the next six weeks or so immersing ourselves in our new approach. We have formed a collective that will help us to dive deep into the areas we will focus on throughout the year: authenticity, simplicity, purpose, freedom, and community. Last night, we met and began to explore authenticity. We talked about what our true identity is before God and the things that keep us from living in that identity. We also talked about the things that can help us to reconnect with our authentic selves: nature, solitude, creativity, silence, and stillness. We spent 20 minutes together in silence. It was moving.

We also decided together to do an experiment this week. We decided to find or create a sacred space for ourselves. We all need places in which we can be still. We all need holy ground where we can be quiet before God to pray and listen. This week, we're each going to try to find where that place can be in our lives.


Here are some ideas I've got about how to find or create a sacred space in your life:

Find or make a beautiful place.
Several years ago, I stumbled upon a small stone chapel not far from my workplace. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. I started eating my lunch there three or four times a week. I talked with God more during that time than many others in my life. It was holy ground to me. But sacred spaces don't have to be stone chapels. They can be a bench in your backyard garden or a comfortable chair in the corner of your room with a side table for an icon, a candle, your Bible, and your prayer journal. Sacred space can be the spot on your back porch where you sit quietly with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and a cigar. Look or make a place, that when you go there, your heart aches a little bit. Don't worry about what other people think. Your sacred space needs to be beautiful to you and connect with your soul, not anyone else's.

Engage your senses.
Candles. Incense. Art. Gardens. Music. Rosary beads. All of these things have a way of transporting us. Go to a museum. Visit the local botanical garden. When you sit down in your chair, light a special candle as a way of signifying that this time of sitting is something different. Breathe deeply. Touch. And see and smell and listen to what is around you. God is all around you.

Sometimes a sacred space can be a path that you hike once a week. Or a prayer labyrinth that forces you to slow down and enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Getting out in nature and exercising your muscles actually opens you up to be more aware of where you are and who you are. If you are the kind of person who really struggles sitting still, maybe an intentional walk alone would be a better way to create a sacred space in your mind.

Be intentional.
Sometimes, sacred spaces happen on accident, but for most of us, if we are going to quiet ourselves in stillness before God, we need to do it regularly and consciously. Maybe that's everyday. Maybe it's every week. Maybe it's just good to know that it's there when you need. Don't let your scared space be something that produces guilt or shame because you don't go there enough. Guilt and shame are not from God. Sacred spaces are an invitation to enter into our true selves before God.


How about you? Do you have any experiences with sacred spaces? Have you created a place in your home to be still? Do you have some place special, some holy ground, that you go to when you need to be quiet and think and pray?


No comments: