Why you need a sacred space

Is there a place in your life that is holy–a sacred space to which you retreat? A place where you get away and are able to really think through and wrestle with the things that are most important in your life? The sort of place that when you arrive there, you feel the stress fall off of your shoulders and are able to breathe more deeply. It could be a chapel. It could be your study or studio. It could be a garden. Wherever it is, it needs to be place where you’re free to withdraw from the incessant stream of information and demands that our world makes of us. 

Todd Henry at the Accidental Creative blog writes about the power of “sacred space,” a place where each of us is free to be with ourselves and engage in our life’s work. He gets the idea from Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth) who writes:

[A sacred place] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

While I’m not familiar enough with the work of Campbell to fully understand the context in which this comment is made, but it makes an awful lot of sense to me. Perhaps there’s something wrong with me, but I often feel quite overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information I am asked to deal with on a daily basis. In some senses, processing information has become a big part of almost everyone’s work–even ministers. Here’s the thing: to my mind, processing information is not terribly life giving or exciting. In the absence of the sacred space of which Campbell writes, life can arguably be reduced to the frenetic attempt to discharge obligations and check things off your to do list.

Campbell continues:

Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it. Get a phonograph and put on the music that you really love, even if it’s corny music that nobody else respects.

At first glance, Campbell could be interpreted as profoundly egoistical. Perhaps he is. However, it is profoundly the case that the ability to take care of yourself is detrimental to all of those to whom God has given you. Take care of yourself so that you can care for your spouse, your children, your brothers and sisters in the faith, and engage in the work that God has given you.

Where is your sacred space? Where do you go to wrestle with life’s deepest issues?

3 thoughts on “Why you need a sacred space

  1. In acts 7 Stephens’ defense before the Sanhedrin was an argument that there is no longer any sacred space. Jesus approved and the religious leaders killed Stephen.

    So “sacred” is not true of any space in a literal sense. If sacred means “low stress” that makes sense, but no physical location is literally set aside for God.

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    1. Joel thanks for your comment. I use the word “sacred” because that’s the word used by Campbell. I think he may be using it to mean something set apart. I should have made that clear. While I don’t think God is more present in one place or another, I do think it appropriate to set apart places for the worship of God (i.e., church buildings).

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