Na Rae

She was five when she plunked herself in front of the piano and proceeded to play Fur Elise…flawlessly.  In contrast to the other medically needy children that we had fostered, Na Rae was from economically able and educated parents.  The advanced technology, however, necessary to repair her fragile and sickly heart was not available in her home of Seoul, Korea.  For months preceding her arrival, my family anxiously awaited our new ‘daughter’, praying daily for safe... [more]
 
 

Held by Water

“I am haunted by waters.”  Like a song, the last refrain of the movie A River Runs Through It pulled at my heartstrings and released a flood of tears and buried longing.  Surprised by my response, I realized that I ached for the rivers of my youth.   I was born on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Too young to connect with this broad body of water, somehow by osmosis, the calm seeped into my soul. ... [more]
 
 

Climbing Trees

So close and so far. Standing there,  I breathe deep.    The smooth bark caresses my feet, Beginning my upward climb. Daring to reach for one more branch One foot after another.    Leaves rustle together, Birds sing their sweet songs  of yesterday.  The voice of nature is loud and clear.  One foot after another.    The rhythm of the branches drives me on.  Reality turns into a speck  Waiting for me at the ground. ... [more]
 
 

Easter Morning

This query about sacred space brought me many memories of remarkable places. Places recognized through space and time as holy sites, as thin places where the veil between this world and the sacred other is transparent and slight. I recalled walking the worn and ancient stone labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral beneath the stained glass rose window.  I recalled an eerily silent two-hour walk through the ruins of Chaco Canyon, one raven the only sign of... [more]
 
 

Reflections on Sacred Space

I first attended Meeting for Worship in a small house in Flagstaff, Arizona.  When I entered the gathered meeting, there was a hush that felt palpable.  The silence was like the cool, quiet of a cave; like a living thing, it embraced and supported me.   My first labyrinth walk was at dusk during a retreat.  The labyrinth, nestled in a clearing in the forest, consisted of three spirals with a space in the center. ... [more]
 
 

Sacred Mountain

Under a gray sky shaped like God’s hand A sea shore gentle and fresh Bright light from heaven shining through the sleeves On precious kindred dear   Leaving tumult behind A place of rest, rebirth and renewal Of new-found realization that life’s journey need not be frozen in time Abiding beside still waters   Mountains are seen differently by birds Song birds in suburbia surprise the newly arrived Sweet sounds that are a gift from... [more]
 
 

Sacred Space

I worked for a week at a project near the town of Needles. Its purpose was to clean up an incursion of hexavalent chromium seeping underground toward the Colorado River upstream from where the City of Los Angeles draws its drinking water. But there was a problem. The local Mojave tribe claimed the pipeline cut through its sacred space, the Mystic Maze, a series of furrows created by the ancient ones before the dawn of... [more]
 
 

A Medley of Sacred Spaces

While allowing my mind to savor and roam through the idea of “Sacred Space,” several memories formed almost simultaneously.  So much for roaming. . .   St. Meinrad Seminary.  The first memory took place at St. Meinrad Catholic Seminary/Monastery in Southern Indiana.  My good friend Joseph, who had been a student there, suddenly got a “hankering” (leading) to go to Sunday night mass, which was open to any interested person.  It must have been in... [more]
 
 

The Tree

Is something sacred because we, or others, hold it sacred?  Or is something sacred because it IS?   Knowing as I do that there are multitudes of answers to this question, I can still be bashful about acting on my answer in public.   Two weeks ago at my living community, several events marked the beginning of what will be a long process of structural renewal.  A particular event struck me with a call to... [more]
 
 

The Inward Sacred Space

I have always been directionally challenged, and I’m thankful for this because twice when I was lost, I found something sacred.       Many years ago, I took a year off from nursing and lived in Great Britain. While touring France, I lost my way and somehow found myself in the Taize Community.  It was near Easter time, and I stayed for a week in a loving, spiritual community surrounded by the beautiful Taize music... [more]
 
 

My Most Sacred Space

This morning I woke up in a temple–my body. I woke up and thanked God for this gift of flesh. Sometimes, I treat my body like a utility vehicle, driving around until a light on the dashboard alerts me, “You live in the Temple of the Holy Spirit! Show her some reverence!”  It’s hard not to override my body’s messages, even in Quaker Meeting.   Often in Open Worship the seating disrespects my spine, and... [more]
 
 

The Hill

When I was in grade school, West 37th Avenue came to an abrupt end.  There was a steel guardrail to mark the limits of civilization.  Beyond the pavement, the ground was covered with weeds and tall grass.  A path, curving like a question mark, slipped past the authority of the guardrail.  That path rose with the slope of the Hill.     There wasn’t much to entice you upwards.  There was no beckoning destination.  The... [more]
 
 

Better View

When my son Eric graduated from college in Malibu, California, he took his first job as youth pastor of the church he had been attending for four years. I visited that church several times and was struck by something strange every time. The rather new, imposing, richly designed sanctuary of that church was built on a bluff overlooking the ocean. It was a billion-dollar view. But the pews all faced in, toward a wall, away... [more]
 
 

My Safe Sacred Spaces

For me, a sacred space is usually a quiet place. It is any space where I stop what I am doing to listen or talk with God. There was a sacred space for me, a very long time ago when I was still single. It was a quiet beach in Marin county in California. In fact, I was alone. It was a wonderfully safe place where I was able to freely, angrily yell openly at... [more]
 
 

Somewhere Else

When I hear the words sacred space, I think of a place I have visited almost every day for fifteen years.  Some days, I stay only for a few minutes and others for an hour or more.  While there, I sit in the warmth of God’s comforting presence while something mysterious happens.  Healing energy, like a stream of living water, flows through me, flushing painful feelings from deep within and washing them away as tears.  When... [more]
 
 

Under a Pine Tree

In the summer before my senior year in high school, a friend of mine brought her Bible out and we read it together on the grass strip in front of her house. That was the first time I had read a Bible.   After that, I got a Bible and read it quite a lot. I read through the New Testament. I prayed and talked to Jesus.   One night, as I lay in bed,... [more]
 
 

The Glory of the Ordinary

In 2009 I was part of a community – a ministry school.  One of the things that was set in the curriculum were days of reflection – times set apart for seeking the presence of God – creating sacred space. . . Some of my classmates went off to remote places…the forest, Mt. Shasta – the lake.  I chose to stay home in my “cell”.  The following offerings came out of the very quiet space... [more]
 
 

Message in the Labyrinth

Labyrinths have always been sacred space to me, whether I’m walking the path in silence or to quiet music, alone or with fellow travelers, seeking an answer to a challenging question or simply seeking a deeper connection with God. Walking the labyrinth takes me deep into a place of inner stillness, as it has for countless seekers down through the ages. As I walk, I feel connected, not only to God and to my own... [more]
 
 

Sacred Spaces

Recognition of sacred space depends on my ability to see it:  to be open to it, aware of it, and be present with it.  Yes, I can name the ocean, the mountains, the many places where I have experienced the Sacred in nature, had a deep spiritual experience, or been with a person who radiated love.  When I remember those times I have been aware of sacred space, whether it be a physical place or... [more]
 
 

 

Stories in this Chapter

 

Na Rae

 

Held by Water

 

Climbing Trees

 

Easter Morning

 

Reflections on Sacred Space

 

Sacred Mountain

 

Sacred Space

 

A Medley of Sacred Spaces

 

The Tree

 

The Inward Sacred Space

 

My Most Sacred Space

 

The Hill

 

Better View

 

My Safe Sacred Spaces

 

Somewhere Else

 

Under a Pine Tree

 

The Glory of the Ordinary

 

Message in the Labyrinth

 

Sacred Spaces