When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush in the wilderness of Sinai, God said, “Take off your shoes for the place where you are standing is holy ground”. Moses had stumbled into a sacred place, a place in which God was obviously present. I believe that God is present with us at all times and in all places, but I believe few places are as sacred as the home. Our most loving and intimate encounters happen in the home where we lovingly prepare meals, share food, cuddle, hug, laugh and cry. Our homes are holy ground.
If you would like to remind yourself and your family of the holiness of living space, whether shared with other family members or inhabited alone, you might think of creating a bit of visual “sacred space” in which to consciously draw near to God each day. Another name for sacred space might be a home altar. Whatever the name, your sacred space can be adorned with items that remind you of God’s presence. Some of these items, like a Bible, cross or candle will be the same in many situations. Others items used will differ greatly.
Sacred space will be different according to the number of people and the ages of those using it. Sacred space for an older person might be a comfy chair set near a window or bookshelf. There might be a prayer shawl, prayer beads, a cross, a Bible, photos of family members, a journal.
If small children are in the home, a sacred space might be made up of prayer pillows set in a circle on the bedroom floor or placed on a different child’s bed each night. The pillows can accompany each child to bed as a remembrance of God’s care throughout the darkness. Sacred space for young children can be arranged around the kitchen table or near a bookshelf, on a couch or in an overstuffed chair. A bedroom dresser makes a good spot for an older child’s sacred memorabilia. A colorful scarf can hold a First Communion picture, a confirmation cross, a God’s eye made at Bible school.
Wherever you choose for a location, invite those who will be using it to have a hand in decorating it with meaningful items. Make a cross by joining two sticks together with colorful yarn. If children are too young to light a real candle, purchase a battery-operated one. God brings light into all corners of the darkness in whatever way possible. A lantern will work or even a glo-stick.
A clear glass bowl filled with water becomes a celebration of baptism into God’s family. An empty bowl or cup reminds us of our need to come before God with outstretched hands receiving all of life as a gift. A bird’s nest or a bunch of dandelions placed on the altar become symbols of God’s love for all creation. The empty shell of a locust or cicada testifies to the power of the resurrection. Color, texture, shapes, things natural and things man-made – any and all can become meaningful when consciously chosen to remind us of God’s presence and goodness.
When you come to this sacred and lovingly prepared spot, take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. Light a candle. Gather in the presence of God to talk about your day. Share your joys and worries. Thank God for what you have. Let go of what you cannot change and give it to God. Pray in whatever words come to mind. Read a Bible story. Share your own faith story. Laugh. Love. Rest in God’s presence.
Written by and with thanks to Meg Nielsen for sharing her insights on creating sacred space. Meg is an Associate in Ministry with many years of Family Ministry experience.