Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sacred Place, Sacred Space: A Sense of Home.

A friend asked in her journal, what is home?

Perhaps, if you've lived in one place all your life, the answer should come easily, instantaneously. Where else, otherwise, could you call home, if you've never experienced something different?

But it's a question that has been put to me rather frequently of late; by my friends, myself, and most importantly, my parents. To my friends, I tell them blithely, "I'm a citizen of the world"; to myself, I scratch my head and try to banish the question into the depths of my mind; to my parents, well, I make non-committal, guilty noises.


In the physical sense, home is where I hang my hat and lay my head; that answer comes quickly. Other maxims come to mind; home is where the heart is (where is the heart?); heaven is my home (what is heaven?). A flood of images, experiences, emotions, feelings, are tied to such weighty words as "home" and "heaven."

Some places have a sense to them. It is a feeling of shelter, of hiddenness, and the ability to gaze out at the world, unseen. In one academic design project, we were asked to choose and consider a space, to evaluate it, break it down into components, as if a recipe, and then to use the recipe to design other spaces with the same feeling.

I discussed two experiences of space. One was sitting out on a pier on the lakefront; I was sheltered from view in the shadows of some structure (probably with a light on top), with the landscape spread before me. Hidden, seeing, without being seen. Another experience is that of swimming in a pool in the morning: sunlight dancing on the pool floor, refracted by my passing. There could have been a hundred people watching me intently: nothing mattered but my interaction with the water and the light on the floor.

There are other safe places, there are other safe spaces. Those places, those spaces, may not be home, but they sure feel like it.

Blgriffith made a wonderful post over at hypersync in which he writes about how people react to him when he's wearing his clerical collar. I encourage everybody to go read the rest of the post, but here is the last paragraph:

This is the responsibility of the clergy - to be holy even as Christ was/is holy despite the fact that we will fail more often than not. We who are the representatives of Christ on earth have this high-calling to put aside ourselves and take upon ourselves the Cross, so that when people see someone in a clerical collar they know that they are safe and free to approach us, even in confession, even in a plea for help, even in passing out a hand-bill when one is shy or afraid. This is what it means to be one who points to God.


It seems that some people, of any stripe or creed, are similarly but invisibly marked: they, too, are approachable, accepting, slow to anger, slow to judge, quick to pardon, seeking to understand, seeking to love, seeking to do right. They create a space where the tide of fear is held back, where no secret is too dark, no failure too deep, where any uncertainty is permitted. Where our humanity can be laid bare without shame or judgement.

Upon meeting such people, no outward sign is necessary: the mark is clear as a Roman collar. Presence is all that is needed: this is Heaven, this is home.

8 comments:

jbmoore said...

To me, home is security, wellbeing, and being greeted by my two cats when I come home from work. One usually wants treats and the other wants love and attention. Perhaps all "home" is is a place where one can feel loved.

Light recognizes light. Generally, clergy are usually people of Light. Yet, as history has taught us, the clergy are all too human and some individuals have caused much evil and suffering due to the power they accumulated through the Church or collar. Being corrupted by power is only one problem. Another problem is that clergy of any faith and religion tend to have the same mindset and outlook on Life and God. Clergy who question the status quo are alienated, marginalized, or worse. Martin Luther is one example of someone who questioned the status quo and shook things up, but many more clerics were probably silenced by the Church. The Bible tells us of Rabbis who denounced Jesus. What were their motives? Jesus threatened them. They would lose followers, livelihood, and their beliefs or notions of God were threatened as well. Some rabbis did see Jesus for who he was. The Bible is mostly silent about those people, except for a scribe and Nicodemus.

I guess what I'm trying to say in my awkward way is that each person is unique, even clergymen and women, and some will be of the Light and others will be lost in Darkness and the collar or office sometimes makes it difficult to tell who is who. Then you have to go by works. An extreme example for Islam is Sadr and his militia. Why would a man of God need his own militia and use guns for his aims? Why do Muslims accept such a cleric?

Please check this link out and see what you think:

http://bernie.cncfamily.com/k_pathless.htm

Liked your thoughts on space. I think you are closer to the Source of Light than you know. You aren't lost in thought like a lot of us. Your blog always has this freshness of spirit.

Bliss,
J

Hayden said...

to me, home is a place of shelter and rest that must - without contradiction - entice me to travel either mentally or physically.

I have been in houses that included all comforts but were dead. My mind did not soar, there wasn't the restless itch in my soul that reminds me that I am alive.

I've floated down a river in a kayak and known that home was the riverbank around the next bend. That tree, that rock, that band of noisy birds somehow marked rest and the expansion of my spirit.

its a bit of a mystery, but I know it when I feel it.

Larry said...

"Foxes have holes and bird's nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

But Heaven was his home and every inch of the earth. His mother, brother, etc. was whoever does the will of his Father.

I have been in many churches all over the world, and never saw one when I didn't feel very much at home, often more than the people who habitually went there.

In Christ we can live his life. I experience that vividly once a week-- when I visit the hospital to pray with the heart patients. I am everybody's brother, and they know it. It's home. Hurrah!

Rob said...

"It seems that some people, of any stripe or creed, are similarly but invisibly marked: they, too, are approachable, accepting, slow to anger, slow to judge, quick to pardon, seeking to understand, seeking to love, seeking to do right. They create a space where the tide of fear is held back, where no secret is too dark, no failure too deep, where any uncertainty is permitted. Where our humanity can be laid bare without shame or judgement."

This is a great paragraph...if you don't mind I would like to put it on my blog.

anonymous julie said...

Jbmoore; "Light recognizes light." - yes, absolutely. Great link; said many of those things myself.

Hayden; thank you! I've similarly enjoyed kayaking...

Larry; "I am everybody's brother" - yes! This week I've reread "One" by Richard Bach (of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" fame); are you familiar?

Rob - thank you, and yes, you're welcome to use it.

Imemine said...

Oost, west,
Thuis, best.

It means "home sweet home".

"Home is where the heart is."
It doesn't matter where the heart is. Home is where you are comfortable and happy. Where you are yourself. Intellect and heart must come and go together.

jbmoore said...

Please visit http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/ and read the Happiness Conservation Theory. Nice chuckle.

John

Larry said...

Julie:
Thanks for putting me on to this remarkable, meaningful, important
book. I went directly to the library and borrowed a copy. Now I've read most of it (down to page 212). I'll probably post on it eventually, but first I'd like to know what you think of it.