When I was thinking about what I would tackle during Week 2 of our revolution-not-resolution journey of self-transformation, I looked at the original blog post and noticed that setting up a sacred space was my #2 suggestion. Perfect. Last week we started on #1 — using a gratitude journal — so why not move in order and take a look at another simple and concrete thing you can do to make this plan easier, more peaceful and more beautiful.
Setting up a personal sacred space is not only simple to do; it’s fun and satisfying. You do NOT need an entire room or even a big portion of a room; you just need a small space to call your own. Stake your claim. If you don’t already have a place where you go to pray or journal or be in silence, take a look around your home and see what you can do. Is there a favorite chair near a window or wood-burning stove, a writing table in a quiet corner, a shelf where you keep favorite personal items or candles? Start there.
My sacred space has morphed and migrated around my house of the years. For the longest time, my sacred space was literally two shelves of a bookcase in my basement office, sandwiched between a cat condo and a video game console. I would turn my chair (or sit on the floor) in front of this space when it was time to pray or meditate. The shelves had a cross, an icon, and some favorite items gathered on retreats or given to me by friends. When I would come down to my basement office to write, just seeing that space would make my shoulders relax and my breath deepen. I loved that space.
For a time, I used our sunporch, although that’s a seasonal sacred space since it gets pretty chilly in an unheated room during upstate New York winters. I would go to that space, surrounded by windows on every side, and look out at the beauty of nature and pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the mornings. A cup of coffee on the table beside me, a candle burning on the electric stove and a cathedral of pine trees was all that space needed.
These days I am blessed to have a room set aside for work, prayer, yoga and meditation. A purple room, no less! I inherited the space from my youngest child when she graduated to her brother’s room. I didn’t plan on it at first, but as I started moving in books and icons and paintings, it became clear to me (and my husband, LOL) that this was becoming Mary’s Room. It had actually been my office before Chiara was born, so it felt like coming home. I have a meditation cushion on the floor in front of a small table that serves as my personal altar space. When I sit on that cushion, I can see out into the trees in the backyard and watch snow falling or branches swaying. I can hear rain pattering against the window or blink against the sun as it starts to sink low in the sky — depending on when I’m in my space.
My space has pinecones gathered on walks around the Abbey of the Genesee (one of my favorite retreat spots), sea shells and rocks from favorite places, an cross forged by a friend’s husband, a lotus candle holder that reminds me that without the mud, there can be no blossom. Rosary beads and mala beads, icons and inspiring images. Make your space your own.
The sky is the limit. In fact, if you are someone who prefers to be outdoors, you can set up an outdoor sacred space, or do your praying while you hike or snowshoe. Just find a place where you feel comfortable not only talking to God, but LISTENING for the still small voice. So often we go to God with a laundry lists of wants and needs and thank-you prayers, but on this journey there needs to be a time when we simply sit and wait and listen. That can be really challenging (something we will talk about more in Week 3.)
When you have a sacred space, you are more likely to go there to pray, to retreat there when you need peace, to seek out the space when you are confused or overwhelmed. It’s like an open door, an around-the-clock invitation to be still.
And wherever your sacred space, even if it’s a comfy chair in the corner of the usually busy living room, let everyone at home know that when you are in that chair early in the morning or late in the evening or whenever you set aside time to pray, you need silence and solitude.
Keep up the good work. Let me know how you’re doing in the comment section. And thank you for being here!
P.S. I’ve been hearing from some of you who are following through on last week’s suggestion to keep a gratitude journal. If you’re finding that practice helpful or have any suggestions or observations to share with the rest of us, leave us a comment on the original post or this one. We’d love to hear from you. .