Sunday, October 24, 2004

sacred spaces

elizabeth at beloved beginner has been blogging about sacred spaces and she inspired me to ponder those places in my journey that have been holy ground.

i grew up with a silent god, so sacredness was few and far between. safe places where probably a better term until god started to crack the door on that false teaching. my most favorite place was a rock in my grandparents back yard. we would only get there 2-3 times a year, but that huge rock was my pondering place as a little girl. it's ironic that we now live less than one hour away from that place we used to have to drive 8 hours to. after my grandmother passed her property was sold. i have longed to just drive up there and ask the new owner if i could just sit on her rock one more time. i think i haven't because i'm so afraid that it might be gone.

that rock was always home base whenever we played kick the can or hide and seek with my cousins growing up. it was big enough for two, but perfect for one small lonely girl to try to figure out her very confusing life.

my parents renovated an 1842 cobblestone farm house during my highschool years and there was an ancient cement silo next to the old barn foundation on the property. the place where the silo attached to where the barn used to be was the best place to sit and watch the sun set. many times were spent with my face covered in tears and my heart covered in lead on that slab of concrete. my feet dangling over the ledge.

my first year of college was in oak park illinois. dead center in frank lloyd wright's neighborhood. his studio was there and it wasn't open like it is now, except for special tours, so the property was usually vacant and i would sit on a ledge there and analyze my life. i loved that place. it felt like i was part of something so much bigger than myself there. it was my secret place.

later that same year my boyfriend and i found a playground at the back of a montessori school that was totally private. i went back there once alone after we broke up and cried my eyes out. that was the beginning of the awakening of the abuse. god was still silent then, and i was so lost and confused.

the next year the school moved to a former catholic monastery, our little brethren minds had no clue what to do with all of the beautiful art and sculpture. most of it was thrown away, but the incredible 20' high stained glass windows featuring the saints had to stay. they surrounded the place we called the 'marble chapel'. i had finally found sacred space. when i sat in there i thought of them as my 'cloud of witnesses'. i would spend hours studying them and the symbolism behind the composition of each window. i wish i had the forethought to have photographed them so i could remember them now.

growing up in a white walled church with aluminum grey venitian blinds and a piece of wood with gold letters at the front that said 'what think ye of christ' on it left me starved for beauty in worship. while the school only formally used this facility once a year it became a place of quiet and contemplation. it was where god began to crack the door on the tiny box everyone around me kept him in.

my first real experience with classical music came in that hall. they used to play it in there in hopes that students would use the room for things other than coupling. i used to sit in there and untie my day. it was truly sacred space.

like elizabeth i am currently in need of some sacred space. i think that's another reason the family altar is becoming important to me. there are a couple of churches i go to when i want to sit in beauty (our church is like a theatre, a nice one, but not at all sacred by any means). i miss the beauty of it all within the context of worship. it's so sad that we've lost that in so many of our churches today.

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