We’ve purchased the 2017 calendar. Some of us (this is so me!) have geekedly planned our year – vacations, dreams, goals and inked them into the schedule. I’ve uncluttered my closet and began my organizational assault on my kitchen drawers.
My outer spaces and my external sacred spaces are in order.
Yet the restlessness, not feeling quite at home feeling continues. I have neglected one of the most important sacred spaces for all of us – my inner space. How do I find/create/restore my inner sacred space?
This Month’s Sacred Space Series
Silence is hard to find. Noise, distractions, interruptions, and the lure of busyness interferes with experiencing God’s presence. Even if we quiet and slow down the outside world, creating inner sacred space seems impossible.
This month’s our Tending the Holy Thursdays series is exploring the practice of creating sacred space. Each month on my Thursday posts, I pick one theme (or person of faith) to explore deeper.
The first week we delved into what sacred space looked like and last week we explored external or outer sacred space. Today is finding the sacred internally in the sometimes noisy and crowded spaces of our hearts and minds.
Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. — Joseph Campbell
As usual, I wrote a free download to accompany this study, titled “10 Tips for Creating a Sacred Space at Home,” with suggestions for forming a space in your home and even some blessings for your area. You can get this PDF at no cost by clicking on the button at the end of the post. It is my hope and prayer that this series and the download will enhance your walk with God.
Be sure to sign up to get Healthy Spirituality in your inbox so you don’t miss any of the weeks (I promise I never over send stuff to you). And invite your friends to this blog and share on social media. I sure do appreciate the support in spreading God’s word.
The Inner Work of Inner Sacred Space
Inner work can be challenging and hard to understand, to put our minds around. We sound sort of “zen” and “new agey.” It’s easier to create outer sacred space – move the furniture, unclutter a drawer, procrastinate with planning and reading than identifying and dealing with inner workings of our soul.
Digging deep inside our heart brings us face to face with feelings we rather keep buried under piles of ego, hurts, fears and human living. We feel naked and vulnerable.
Moreover, in the unveiling of our inner self, the tools to use to do this work aren’t ones that come naturally in our culture today. Silence, stillness, and solitude normally don’t make the top ten lists of accomplishments.
Creating and savoring an inner sacred space reminds me that WE are the temple of God. This space invites us to pay attention, nurture and spend time there.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.
I Corinthians 6: 19
Remembering we are the temple of God – I find my true self without the “should’s” life and the world place upon me. I become who God creates me to be.
Inner space is a place of peace. A portable sanctuary where I experience God even in crazy, chaos and cares of living.
A safe place where we can say anything to God, knowing he understands and hears us.
An inner sacred place to feel loved and accepted by God.
I am going to be honest – I struggle with staying within this inner sacred space, but I am learning to linger there longer and come back to it more often. Life’s journey travels along a spiral path, ever drawing closer to God. I am gentle with myself as I step in closer to my heart and the heart of God.
I don’t know if this exploration of inner sacred space makes sense to you, but I hope you think about your own inner space. Just becoming aware of this haven of rest and restoration available within your soul may be the first step.
Bonnie Gray writes in her wonderful book, “Finding Spiritual Whitespace”, this reflection:
“When we make room for spiritual whitespace, we create space in our hearts
- A blank space for Jesus to write on,
- A white canvas for him to paint onto,
- An intimate silence he can speak into,
- A cook dark night sky to light a song or lyric within,
- An open field for him to walk through,
- An intimate café corner for him to whisper into, and
- An empty seat in the window of your soul, so he can lean in and warp his arms around you as you both watch lightning crawl across the sky.
Finding your white space is daring to discover the places in your heart that are virgin, tender, soft, untraveled, wounded or broken –so Jesus can make those places yours and his. He is whispering “I am here.’”
Tips for Inner Sacred Space
Here are a few tips I am discovering for venturing into my inner sacred space:
- Rituals invite me into silence and stillness. I bow and ask God to be present with me. I take a few deep breaths. Other ideas are: beginning with my favorite breath prayers (Whispers: Being with God in Breath Prayers). Lighting a candle. Playing soft music. Reading the scriptures. Writing my prayers and current experiences in a journal. All patterns to open the door to go deeper.
- Routines of good sleep, staying nourished and well-hydrated and walking. Good self-care of my body compliments good soul-care.
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- Reducing cyberspace. The chatter of social media and endless rabbit trails of the Internet distracts me. Turning down the volume of my email chirps and placing boundaries on my computer usage creates more time to be with God.
- Reading settles my spirit into hearing God. Spending time with my Bible, an inspirational devotional and spiritual writings from other sojourners, both living and dead gives me new perspectives, helps me articulate what I am experiencing and offers new ideas to explore.
- Recognize what is going on within your heart. Pay attention and name the feelings. Hear your own voice without the influence of others and the noise from outside. Just talk with Jesus. Don’t make too complicated with churchy words and what you think you are supposed to say. I experienced this type of inner work on a retreat with the help of God and a spiritual director. Slowly I unwrapped my fears and hurts to identified the core emotion of feeling abandoned and how that ruled my behavior. I presented my abandonment to God who healed my brokenness with his love. Difficult inner work yielding more space for God in my heart.
- Reflect on your heart. Imagine your heart. See it uncluttered and God present. How does Christ sit with you?
- Remember the practices of stillness and silence. I find you can’t abruptly turn the switch from noise to inner quiet. I love my microwave and the easy flip of the remote control but these tools fail me here. Inner work, going within, digger deeper takes time. Choose quiet. I remember my retreat last year feeling so frustrated as the restlessness and anxiety prevented me from feeling snuggled and settled with God. The second morning I lingered in the quiet chapel and literally experienced “entering silence” like crossing a threshold into a new place.
Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation. In order to hear that language, we must learn to be still and to rest in God.
— Thomas Keating
- Relieve yourself of your burdens. Tackle this challenging question: What takes you from God and blocks you from drawing near to him? My ego loves to maintain control (remember how I love to plan and schedule things?) Remembering I am NOT God, I confess my urge to be my own director in life. My continual prayer is “He, not me.” Knowing and laying aside my flaws, I come to God ready to be transformed in his way.
Blessed are the ears which hear God’s whisper and listen not to the murmurs of the world.
— Thomas a Kempis
I don’t have all the answers to this journey inward to sacred space. I am still learning and being formed in this discipline. I hope today’s post gets you thinking and praying about your own inner sacred place and this series helped you start to unfold the holy and sacred all around and within us.
Inside each of us there is a beautiful flower garden. This is the garden of the soul. Here we can enjoy the fragrance of each and every flower and discover the true beauty and boundless freedom of our inner selves.
Don’t forget I created a free download to accompany this topic called “10 Tips for Creating a Sacred Space at Home,” You can get this PDF at no cost by clicking the button below.
How is your inner sacred space? What has helped you experience God there?
Nancy Ruegg says
My slow but steady progress to experience the inner sacred place parallels yours in many ways, Jean. I, too, find that a quiet time removed from distractions, with Bible, journal, other reading matter, help me experience God, hear his voice, and respond to Him. With you, I am still learning and being formed in this discipline. But I don’t see that as a failure or a disappointment. I’m grateful that, for as long as God leaves me on Planet Earth, there will always be more of Him to discover. ‘Loved that quote of Thomas Keating, AND that delightful painting of Jesus with the little girl–playing with her toes as preschoolers do! Wonderful post, Jean–practical and inspiring.
Jean Wise says
Our inner space will probably be a lifelong struggle, Nancy. I am beginning to imagine this space is like that spare room, where everything gets jammed into we don’t know where to put or want to hide and not take the time to deal with. No wonder it gets so cluttered. Love your heart for God!!
Martha Orlando says
I love how you’ve laid out in such clear detail here, Jean, the many ways to tend to and nurture our inner sacred space. At times, I’ve done all of these, just not on the daily basis I should be doing them. This will improve! 🙂
I also love that picture of Jesus listening to the child – what a poignant and loving reminder that our Father truly wants to hear from us, and cares so deeply for us.
Jean Wise says
Thanks Martha, this was a tough post to write and it is a topic that is more vague and hard to explain. I think you experience it more than explain it. Glad you liked that photo. I really do too