That Sacred Space

 Do you believe in the sacredness of place? Have you any that are holy or special to you?

As a loner, in my teens I would tramp the fields behind out house. Outdoors in beautiful countryside was a great start, but there were also particular places. Like underneath the twisted tree that overhung the brook, or the view of the distant village from the hill below the woods. In the early morning my companions were deer, badgers, foxes, rabbits and birds. Human contact tended to break the spell. Those places are still so special to me decades later.

But things were the other way round in the official sacred space of the village church. I discovered, through several abortive attempts to practise the organ there alone, that it scared the absolute hell out of me! Fortunately my grandfather was happy to sit out those sessions with me.

Perhaps it was the gloomy tombs, the feeling of dust and neglect – or relics like the decaying flag and disintegrating shirt of a long dead knight held high on a pole (the shirt, not the knight). Since then there have been other churches or shrines that have felt sacred, that have spoken of centuries of prayer, joyous unions, heartbreaking sorrows, all underpinned by a pervasive sense of holiness and polished wood.

Do you have your own special place for writing? Some people can write anywhere, inspired by the buzz of  people around. I believe JK Rowling birthed Harry Potter in a cafe!

My special place is at my desk in the spare bedroom where I look out of the window down the long shared drive, bordered by a holly hedge on one side and a spinney on the other. We have a huge copper beech tree outside the window which offers me great inspiration in all its' stages of dress or undress.

That is where in the house I feel closest to God. But is it necessary for writing? I usually do write at my desk, but more important is to have uninterrupted time with no demands.

Back to sacred places. I know several people whose lives have been turned around in an instant by walking into a church or cathedral. There is my friend who 'met Jesus' (though she didn't then have a name for him) when she walked into an imposing Scottish church aged six. Later she became a christian, prompted by that powerful early encounter. Similarly, a catholic friend was impacted as a delinquent youngster when he walked into a Spanish cathedral. He claimed he simply 'met God' and it turned him around. Another guy said he became a christian when visiting a monastery through seeing Christ in the face of a monk.

Nothing sacred about bricks and mortar or the mechanics of ritual I guess. But God at work through people turned to Him in everyday life seems as potent as ever.

Eileen Padmore retired some time ago from health care and academia with a vow to indulge in writing more creatively and less academically. Her background in Africa, Eire, Northern Ireland (in the trouble) as well as inner city Birmingham and Leeds provides plenty of copy. she has had articles published by Woman Alive, Christian Writer and contributed to the popular ACW Lent book.

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