(with God in mind….)
“CREATING SACRED SPACE”
There is so little room for God. God is both omnipotent and omnipresent (meaning has so much power and pervasive presence), yet deigns to give us the room to choose whether or not we will let God in to our lives. The humor is that God is always there and
willing to be part of our lives. The irony is that all we have to do is ask God in. So why do most people live such unfulfilled lives? Why do we feel so trapped and overwhelmed?
I would argue there are two primary reasons for this. And both have to do with space. For a moment, give me your time to finish reading this article. That is, in part, the answer to the question. Apart from “time management” concepts about getting work finished, there is a primary concept at play. Time management studies assume, as in western economics, that we have a limited resource of time, and how we choose to use it will determine how effective we are. I argue that this concept, is, in fact, limited. Time is time. It continues. No one has any shortage. We are all give the same time in which to live. Ask any busy person how they get things done. They will tell you—they just do things. Maybe they prioritize them a bit better, or keep their files a bit more tidy. But they have the same time that you and I do.
But I will argue that we have fallen prey to a false assumption about time (and space). We have bought the argument that everything is limited. We have forgotten that God is not limited to time and space like we think we are. God has plenty of time and space for the over 7 billion people that live, for all the saints in heaven, for all of creation. And God has given us the Holy Spirit, which, as best as I know, is at work in your and my life right now. God literally creates “time and room” in the midst of “time” and “room”. It is not philosophical table talk. It is real. It is sacred (“other”; “holy”; of God). God finds time for you at the same time that God finds time for someone in Australia, Mongolia, Chile, and Iraq. God finds ways to transform space and place into sacred space.
But we rarely choose to look for it. It is right there, at our fingertips. We can access God without having to use 411 or googlemaps. But we must choose ourselves to access God. I find it both sad and humorous that so many people are so constantly stressed out by life, and, when I ask them how they use their time and space, they tell me that they have no freedom to think, breathe, reflect, or pray. When I ask them what fills all this space and time, they tell me—Activities do. My never being shut off smartphone does. My constant having to have noise with I-pads, MP3s, ear-buds in my ears does. My having no private space to “get away” does. And that is our fault. And it can change.
I don’t stress as easily anymore. I still react like most people do– but I have learned techniques. The first is I acknowledge the stress and name it. The second is that I ask myself whether it is more an issue of space or time. The third is I attend to it. The fourth—and the purpose of this Column article—is I create sacred space to address it.
Sacred space is either/both about space and time. I learned years ago that I need a
private place to de-stress. I also learned that I need a private time to de-stress and re-focus. I really believe that is behind why Jesus got away from his disciples and other people the way he did. He literally went “away” from everyone and prayed alone. **By the way: prayer is NEVER a waste of time. Prayer is a way of re-focus. I ask God to enter. I ask God to help me gain perspective. I ask God to give me strength to address both what I think I need to do, and to help me in the places I don’t understand what I need to do. I often use late at night to do this. You might want to use another time. You might want to find the place that can be sacred for you to spend time with God.
The least stressed people I know have the same problems that you and I do. Sometimes they face things that I would argue are greater than what most people face. But they
consistently have found time and space to use in the midst of their stress, and place that value so highly that they are willing to sacrifice what you and I might see as valuable time and place. One of my dear friends said it to me once this way: “I don’t have time NOT to pray” (I really love that one). The most physically healthy people I know do the same things around exercise. They cannot imagine a world without walking, or keeping active. And yet they also have enough balance not to over-exercise or occasionally change a pattern when life creates for them a momentary change. I recently heard the story of a baseball player who learned that he
became a better pitcher after he had major “Tommy John” surgery. He was asked how that was possible. He simply said—”I started doing the exercises that I should have been doing in the first place. But now I understood their importance”.
In my next article, I will be reflecting more on sacred space. I will have just been at Tower Hill Camp—a special place of sacred space for me, and having been through sabbatical (a special time of sacred space). Through then, may you find the time and space necessary to be healthy. Know that God is ready to spend that time and space with you.
In the Christ,