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. Luminarias were set up around the paths. The walk was very emotional for me; I prayed, cried, laughed, railed, and praised. Eventually, feeling purged and free, yet exhausted, I lay down in the labyrinth’s center. Out of the dark, women appeared with a cot mattress and blanket. Lying there, surrounded by the candles, and tall pine trees, I felt I was on holy ground. I was sure that this was the feeling that great cathedrals, with their tall, circular pipe organs, were trying to capture.
In my Friends’ Meeting in Tucson, there were three other families that were very close to mine. We spent holidays and other special times together. During Meeting for Worship, seeing one of these Friends next to me or across from me, I felt connected to the Sacred through my connection to them.
Recently, lying in bed, watching my grandson sleep, feeling my love for him, I had an overwhelming awareness of God. I reflected on the searching I’ve done; of Christianity, Hassidism, the Kabbalah, the Tarot, the Muslim faith, Buddhism, etc. I’m glad that I’ve studied and practiced so many paths; I’ve learned and gained much from them. Yet, in that moment next to Isiah, my understanding of God as love was more real and intense than anything I’ve found in my searching.
Considering these experiences, I realize that while space is important in my perception of the sacred, often my consciousness of the Divine is brought about, or helped along, by my relationship with others. In Flagstaff, the Friends already gathered in silence created the holy hush. The atmosphere at the labyrinth was enhanced by those who cared for me. In Tucson, when seeing a beloved Friend in Meeting, I sensed the Spirit move between us, and through us and itself. Feeling the love for my grandson so physically — as fullness and overflowing in my chest, as tears in my eyes, as a softening of muscles –I knew that I was feeling God.
A sense of sacred space enhances my ability to experience the transcendent. It is conducive to feeling safe, unclenching, and letting go. It centers me in the essence of what I am longing for. I’ve had many experiences of sacred space on my own, especially in nature. Yet it is often when experiencing God in others that I am most aware of an encounter with that Mystery in which I live, and move, and have my being.
— Mica Coffin