Holding Sacred Space

Day 1: Holding Self to Hold Others 

It is Sunday – our traditional day of Sabbath, which means the day of the week that people for many hundreds of years have been dedicating to spending sacred time together. Our ‘holding sacred space’ workshop is an explorative enquiry and embodied practice into how we can create sacred space for ourselves and others, and in doing so begin to develop a collaborative way of ministering.

The questions that opened our day together were…
What do you long for?
What is sacred space and how is it different from normal space?

Into the pot were placed longings for deeper relationship, for community, for a remembering and renewing of our traditional sacred space, for a rebalancing of the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine in the wider world and in one’s life, an honouring of both the light and the dark, the external and the internal...

We followed this with some musings on the responses of what sacred space means to us. The photograph above reveals some of the words and phrases that emerged in the group.

The model for holding space is one developed by Sam and is based on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. This is a model of four worlds, which when mapped onto ourselves begins at the level of Body or Physicality, and then Self or Psyche, then the Bigger Self or Stable Witness, and finally Divine Being or the All.

To hold space for others we must hold space for ourselves. Holding space for ourselves is based in the capacity to consciously inhabit these four worlds; that means being embodied, becoming aware of the self, expanding awareness to the bigger self, and having a sense of being held by ‘the All’. It is not a one way transcending ladder through each world, but rather an inclusive journey through each world, so that each one is acknowledged and present, and you are therefore able to hold space that invites all these dimensions in others.

Knowing these different worlds in ourselves, we can become better aware of what resources each dimension needs to thrive. What I need on a bodily level is different to what I need in spirit, and in fact the tangible realisation of my day was that often how I feed myself in body is in response to hunger on a deeper level for connection. It is evident to me that we live in a society transfixed on bodily needs – exemplified in the over-consumption of food, entertainment, sex, drugs, etc. This kind of feeding gives us a shallow and temporary sense of fullness. It is unable to reach the depths of hunger of our human soul – the need for true relationship, love and nourishment. In our world today, Sunday is no longer such a sacred day. The churches are emptying and the shops are full. But can shops really replace what our sacred houses provide? There is a fundamental difference between the two – shops feed only our material needs whereas sacred space has the potential to feed all.

Our sacred house for this journey is Juliette’s beautiful home in Dartington, and here on this Sunday we collaboratively created sacred space for ourselves and one another.

Articulated by one group member:

The day reminded me of contemporary accounts of Jesus' community; at a time of turbulence and great spiritual anticipation, where people gathered in small, intimate gatherings within the home, long before the great cathedrals were built and long before their revelations were to become a religion.  

The altar at the end of the weekend with additions of soil and rock, poem and tree.


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