What makes a space sacred?

I'm writing this in a coffee shop where I am working across the table from a good friend. We were talking about sacred space and she said, "this is a sacred space."  And it is, in the sense, that when we are together we hold space for each other to show up truthfully, openly and without judgment. There is both safety (security) and support (belonging) and those things are important in creating a sacred space.

Is it a sacred space? It may be.

When I leave this meeting I am heading to another meeting. This one is at a place called ThinkSpot. It is at a meeting place, a gathering place, that has been created to help people connect with each other through the intentional design of the physical space as well as the attention that is given to how people interact there. 

Is it a sacred space? It may be. 

We need to define the word sacred as our starting point. According to the Cambridge Dictionary the word sacred means: something that is holy and deserving of respect. It may be connected to religion and it can be something that we value too much to change (as in my routine is sacred to me).  I think we can find clues to what we mean when we describe something as sacred in that definition.

When I define sacred space I like to use the word 'encounter'. A sacred space is a place of encounter. In it you are able to encounter that which is sacred to you in a way that is meaningful to you. It may be connected to religion. It will definitely be something that is deserving of respect. It is why people often encounter sacred spaces in nature. 

Author Margaret Silf writes, "For the Celts there was never any shadow of doubt that these two worlds, the visible and the invisible, the material and the spiritual, were one. . . . The invisible was separated from our sense perceptions only by the permeable membrane of consciousness. Sometimes that membrance could seem as solid as a brick wall. Sometimes it could seem very thin. Indeed, we speak, even today, of some places as being thin places, meaning that the presence of the invisible and the spiritual in those places is almost palpable." (p.13, Sacred Spaces)

There are times when we recognize after the fact that we were in a sacred space. There are times when we can be in what at one point had felt like a sacred space and not have any sense of encounter there. It is like what was once available to us in that space is no longer there. We can feel disappointed and sad when that happens.

There are times when we unexpectedly find ourselves in a thin place. We are aware that there is a connection to something bigger than what we see on the surface. It may be a coffee shop. It may be a gathering place. It may be a forest. But we have that sense that there is something more, a connection has been made and in this moment we feel held, connected and seen. We have encountered ourselves and the Other. 

Your Truth:

  • When have you experienced 'sacred spaces' in your life?
  • What was different about the experience that made it feel like a sacred space?
  • Do you think you can replicate that experience?
  • Would you want to replicate it or do you prefer to just let these things unfold?