BLESSINGS, dear friends. As the flowers begin to bloom, 'tis a good time to pause in the Silent Sacred Space of our own heart soil to celebrate all that wants to flower in us.
The silence of landscape conceals vast presence. Place is not simply location. A place is a profound individuality. Its surface texture of grass and stone is blessed by rain, wind, and light. With complete attention, landscape celebrates the liturgy of the seasons, giving itself unreservedly. The shape of a landscape is an ancient and silent form of consciousness. Mountains are huge contemplatives. Rivers and streams offer voice; they are the tears of the earth's joy and despair. The earth is full of soul.
Sacred space is the playground of the soul. To create a sacred space, we start from nothing. We define its parameters, clear it of accoutrements, and bless the emptiness. Then we bring to the space only that which leads us into harmony with our own center, fortifies us, reflects our intention, reminds us of the reason we are there. Our sacred space is defined in such a way that everything in it becomes a metaphor for the journey out of the secular realm and into the spiritual, when we disengage from the limits of time and temporal concerns.
Certain redwood groves are holy places for me because they capture silence and light. The forest is so dense as to exclude all external noise. It is possible to ignore their silence until a single bird sings within. When the single song has died not only do I realize I have heard a sound exquisite in its simplicity, but also that I have heard it so precisely because it was embedded in pure silence.
When we sit prayerfully in silence and solitude we are entering the desert, our desert. In this sacred space, the goal is not to hide from others, devoid of pain, or to hold ourselves apart from and above the community in which we live. It is to receive the grace to learn to face ourselves directly so we can learn to live ordinariness, to live ethically and generously with others.
Bede Griffiths once said to me,
"What is essential is to keep the heart always open to beauty."
What could be harder in an age like ours? And yet, it is just because our age is so harsh and brutal that it is more than ever essential to create around us, in our homes and offices and meeting places, a sacred environment. To do so is to awaken the poet in each of us, the poet and the lover of life and beauty. Creating a sacred environment is not complicated; it just requires concentration and the constant reminder that the one important thing in your life is to keep your heart open to Divine Love.
I want to remind myself and others that our homes can become sacred places, filled with life and meaning.
Should a greater ecological awareness begin to shape our thinking, new symbols would arise that could bind the scientific and the spiritual and would reinfuse all life with the essence of the sacred. We would be increasingly capable of envisioning the "blue, true dream" that is the living Earth luminous in the darkness of the surrounding sky.
Your arched aisles wooed me near, a place of peaceful rest amidst my struggles.
Even as a child I knew the sacredness of personal space. I remember going behind my grandmother's house to a place where I could hide behind tall weeds. I would sit for hours in my circle of stones. That space was so special I never revealed it to even my closest playmates... Sacred spaces can be created anywhere. When I felt a need for a sacred simplicity within my city home, on a sudden inspiration, I emptied a closet and painted it white. Within this purified space, I placed a stone, a leaf, a bowl of water and a sitting cloth from the Amazon -- things special to me at that moment. I had created my own sacred space.
A sacred space is a place where you feel comfortable and protected. You are free from outside influences to meditate, pray, or just sit quietly and be.
I looked at the gentle blue-eyed Englishman and asked him how he managed to meditate and concentrate in such a noisy, busy place.
"It's not difficult," he replied. "I simply incorporate the sounds into my meditation. It becomes a kind of rhythm. It doesn't disturb my peace and quiet at all."
I recognized that the quiet place, the sacred place, has to be within the person first of all.
This room was a sacred space, a place that he had chosen to make especially his own, a place redeemed from mere "use" in which he would make a conscious attempt to be at rest and to put a part of his life in order. In short, this was the evidence that the man was able to pray.