Sunday, July 13, 2008

Oh, the sacredness of space...


Here are some photos of my new office. It's tiny, but it has a window to the street (one of only two in this house), and I've been able to make it really mine in terms of color and functionality.

When I was five and six years old we lived in Nederland Texas, east of Houston. I have this memory of a neighbor's house--the children there were older so we didn't play over there much. But on this one rare occasion all the younger kids, like me, were in that house. And forever in my memory are the sheer purple drapes the mom had hung in one of the bedrooms. Oh! I thought they were beautiful! The windows were open, too, so there was movement and they sort of floated in the room. Because of that image in my mind's eye, I decided to decorate my office in purple. Purple drapes (not sheer, though), purple lamps, and I arranged some flowers with purple and pink in a purple vase. I love it!

I love sitting in this room. The feel of it is cozy and beautiful, and I feel a sacredness here. Like when I got up early this morning to go over everything for the service--I was able to sit here and relax and jut let God's presence calm my spirit.

Belden Lane's Landscapes of the Sacred begins with this quote: "Once in a while, we ought to concentrate our minds upon the remembered earth. We ought to give ourselves up to a particular landscape in our experience; to look at it from as many angles as we can, to wonder upon it, to dwell upon it. We ought to imagine that we touch it with hands at every season and listen to the sounds that are made upon it. We ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. We ought to recollect the glare of the moon and the colors of the dawn and dusk."

Lovely.

Lane then begins writing by saying that sacred space is "storied space. Particular locales comes to be recognized as sacred because of the stories that are told about them." And he mentions Abraham heading toward Canaan.

Canaan my little office isn't. Nothing so grand. But it does fulfill one or two of Lane's axioms for "sacred space." First, he says that "sacred space is not chosen, it chooses." Interesting, huh? He writes about a space on the slopes above the Mississippi in which he was unexpectedly "found" by a clearing in the woods. He perceived it as "a place quietly seeking me out, whispering beyond all my previous, conscious efforts to locate and fix the place of power. Sacred space is a construction of the imagination that affirms the independence of the holy."

Hmmm...I have to say that I created this little office with a hope of its being sacred. But he's right; it didn't feel holy until this morning when I simply relaxed and allowed God to find me here.

Second, Lane says sacred space "is ordinary place, ritually made extraordinary." He writes that his "undistinguished clearing the woods was made remarkable by the ritual act of silence which I had assumed there. The discipline of waiting had the effect of sanctifying the site in my memory."

Yes, and I think in my case, the discipline of beauty had a sanctifying effect yesterday. I spent several hours Saturday hanging the drapes, setting up the lamps and organizing books and the closet just the way I want them. It's amazing how important color is to me. I have other colors I enjoy, but when I put those lilac colored drapes up yesterday, I was so deeply pleased.

And the third of Lane's axioms is that sacred space "can be tred upon without being entered. Its recognition is existentially, not ontologically discerned. It is intimately related to states of consciousness." He writes that he had "criss-crossed all the bluffs above the river before, but it was only on this occassion, from this given perception, that I saw the clearing as holy ground."

Yes, while it doesn't depend entirely on me--God is at work here, too--my little office is sacred space when I am present to the Presence of the holy.

12 comments:

Diane said...

I love your descriptions of your office and its sacred space. It sounds so cozy and beautiful, like a nest.

Gannet Girl said...

It looks beautiful, and beautifully intentional.

mompriest said...

Oh, lovely indeed. I think Lane's description of Sacred Space is wonderful, especially the idea that it can exist without our perceiving it and that it finds us...

also, I am giving you an award...drop by my blog later to find it...

Jan said...

Katherine, Lane's words with yours created a description of sacred space that was shown in the pictures you posted. I'm so glad you have such a lovely place as your own. It is nice to think of you blogging from there. Someday I'm going to visit you and see it for myself!

C. said...

K, how lovely. I'm thrilled for your creation of office space, your sacred space! CCW

Mary Beth said...

This is just gorgeous, and very timely as I examine some of my own issues around clutter and sacred space. thank you!

Rev Kim said...

Your words and your office are beautiful!

Katie Z. said...

WOW... I never use my office here at home. For some reason I have found myself with my laptop sitting on the couch in the living room whenever I need to work. And it strikes me that my office doesn't feel like its mine yet. It doesn't feel sacred. It feels sterile and too big and foreign to me.

I'm totally inspired to spend some time creating and discovering it as a sacred space in my life!!!

Jiff said...

I love everything about this post-- the glimpse into your sacred space, the wonderful quote from Lane and your weaving of words.
Blessings!

Singing Owl said...

What a beautiful post and pictures. I think I am inspired to make some changes in my office...pondering...

Sally said...

wonderful, and beautiful :-)

Anonymous said...

You described your office well, according to Belden's axioms. I actually have him as a teacher right now, and am currently finishing up a paper over The Landscapes of the Sacred and how the axioms relate to a place we have experienced. This page helped me out, especially in clarifying how to describe the axioms. Thanks!