August 22, 2021
SCRIPTURE READING: 1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11,22-30
Thanks for engaging in the little exercise and the reading of Psalm 84 before our prayer time. It is very interesting to become aware of how you FEEL when you enter a particular space. Especially when you aren’t given any preparation (with words) about the space and all you have is what you feel.
Have you had those sorts of experiences where the space feels somehow HOLY or SACRED?
- White Point Trail / lookout – Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
- Mt. Savior Benedictine monastery in Elmira, New York
- Chapel on side of a mountain on the Greek Island of Naxos
King Solomon had an almost overwhelming sense of SACRED SPACE when the temple was completed and ready to be dedicated.
And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the LORD. Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.1 Kings 8:10-12
I’m guessing that those of you who have been here at St. John’s for many years have had such a sense when you’ve quieted yourself in this sanctuary. Certainly we do when we gather for Contemplative Prayer.
These kinds of places are so important! They remind us that we are not alone, that there is something/someone greater than us, that mystery still exists, and that the world is an amazing and sacred gift.
Of course, there is a real sense that every place, every person is sacred. This truly is our heavenly parent’s world – our father’s world, if you will. But because we are such small specks on one of the millions of surfaces in the universe, we can’t take it all in and embrace the whole, so we have an opportunity to hold a piece of it with particular care.
Sometimes it is PLACES. Like the temple- the Garden of Eden – The Olive Garden for Jesus. We have such places too!
Sometimes TIMES are sacred. Like keeping the Sabbath Holy and holy days (HOLIdays) Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, etc.
And then we see ourselves as a SACRED PERSON. Our bodies are the very temple of the Holy Spirit. And then – the sacred CONNECTIONS: “Where 2 or 3 are gathered together, there I am in the midst”, Jesus said.
So we are sacred / holy people living in a sacred / holy world but how easily we forget the way we are surrounded with the presence of God. And no wonder! We humans have done our best to drown out that sense of divine presence with our racket, chaos, confusion, and commerce. And God continues to speak in that gentle whisper that Elijah first heard outside his cave. He had to LEARN that God did not speak in the wind, earthquake or fire.
And we, too, have to learn. Again and again. I wonder about the wisdom of finding or creating our own sacred space to which we return regularly in order to remember whose we are and why we are a part of this wonderful world!
Some people can dedicate a whole room as sacred space – others maybe just a small portion of a room. Perhaps it includes an open copy of scriptures and a candle to signify light. Maybe a favorite piece of art.
Some people make it a habit to return again and again to a place in nature that becomes familiar and God-inhabited. A chair, a tree, a pond or view that inspires you.
There are a thousand ways to create sacred space. It is such a personal thing. And it often involves a discipline for those of us who are easily distracted. So easily something pulls us away or causes us to say “Not today. Today I am too busy. Maybe tomorrow.” But the saints always seem to remind us that we must practice and practice the art of finding ourselves in the presence of God.
And when we visit that sacred space, there are a thousand ways to fill that time. Perhaps it is just silence! Maybe a sacred text. (How long since you read a chapter from the Bible?) Great writing, or creating your own writings with a journal. What draws you into the presence of God? Some turn on music, some turn it off.
Whatever effort you make to find yourself in the presence of God, you will carry a bit of your awareness with you as you move out into the daily noise and interactions – and the more likely it is that even there you will find God!
Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.