What Is Sacred Space?

It was an innocent question. Hypothetical, really. “What is Sacred Space?” The question was the premise, following which the woman who asked it proceeded to explain what she thought Sacred Space is. But I couldn’t relate to any of her examples. Her first example was a church’s sanctuary. This didn’t ring true with me because I’ve never found The Divine within a building. I’ve found it among people within a building, sure, but never in the building itself. From there, the examples were a bit less defined. Cemeteries. Peaceful parks. Holy sites (back to the structures) such as Stonehenge. What this woman meant, essentially, when she spoke of “sacred spaces” was location, location, location. Places where you could find some sense of the sacred, in whichever form you conceive of that.

I’ve never found that to be the case. As I said, I’ve never felt The Divine in a church. I’ve never felt it in a cemetery. Or on a plot of land. I’ve never been overly awed by old, or even ancient, structures. People come, and people go. They usually damage something along the way. It’s messy. I suspect what this woman thought of as “sacred” could probably be best described as “stillness”. If there is a stillness within a space, it suggest sacredness. But that’s not how it feels to me. The sacred can be joyously noisy. It’s not some disciplined stillness which one tries to pass off as serene and sacred.

I rescued a baby squirrel once. I don’t remember where I was going, but I stopped my car because there was a baby squirrel in the road. I blew my horn, but it didn’t move. I put my car in park and got out, assuming it would run. It did not. I walked over to it, sure that if I approached it or reached for it, it would run into the nearest yard. It didn’t. I put my hand down, expecting it to run, and instead it crawled up into my hand. That baby squirrel was weak. Tired. It looked into my eyes, and I looked into his. To me, that moment between us was what I think of as Sacred Space. There was a moment in time where nothing else mattered, but that divine spark of recognition and creation, where the only thing which resonates is our breath, and the blood which pumps through our veins.

There are times in life, if you are lucky and seek them out, where you can put aside the yoke of a busy human being for a time, and briefly see the world for what it is when you’re not so industriously trying to make sense of it all. That’s when you can hear the wind meandering through the trees, and the sighing of leaves, and the calling of distant crows. And yes, the barking and grumbling of squirrels in the canopy overhead. All of that exists within Sacred Space.

Sacred Space is the world and the Universe as it really is, and it remains sacred whether we are tuned in to it or not. We can find our way there if we try. If we listen. If we feel. If we can shut up. Yes, you can find the sacred in a building, but it’s not the building. You can find it in a cemetery, but it’s not in the stones. You can find it among people, but it’s not the people.

There IS a stillness out there that awaits our return, but it’s not simply inaction. We know it when we’re young and not so busy. We feel it when it touches us, when the wind tussles our hair. The Sacred Spaces of the world call out of to us through every waking moment of every day. And all we have to do to key in is to simply stop. Just stop. And listen. And be. In those moments, in those spaces, we can hear and feel Sacred Space, because it never leaves us. We just leave it. Sometimes, if we try, we can find our way back there, knowing in our hearts that when we do so it really doesn’t matter where we are. We just are. And it just is. And we ourselves are always a part of Sacred Space, because the spaces between our atoms are Sacred Space. We are Sacred Space.

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Gavin Mills
2 years ago

Nice thoughts. I’m busy researching a book on ‘God’; working title – Godsplay. Interesting little project. That’s how I came by your stuff. Thanks.