Sacred Space is Sometimes Between Us
Sacred Space is Sometimes Between Us
by the reverend Charles M. Bidwell, PhD

The woods or a mountain top, the sanctuary of a church or temple, and the confidential room of a counselor's office have all been considered sacred spaces, but I have experienced sacred space when I have been privileged to be present when someone is sharing a deep feeling or confounding dilemma. The sacred space is often found between two people in a trusting relationship.

I had lived with and loved Patrick for five years before he became terminally ill. As I stood by his bedside in the hospital and stroked his forehead, he told me that he was not worried about dying (he had had glimpses of his grandmother waiting to take him on to the next life) but he was worried about how I would manage without him. He shared his conviction that life continued and I got the sense that his spirit would be around for awhile to support me until I could walk again on my own. That was a sacred space.

When another friend died, I was privileged to be present when his family arrived in the hospital room. I suggested that we surround his bed and hold hands as we prayed in gratitude for the gift his soul had been to our lives. I then invited whoever wished to anoint his forehead (representing his ideas shared with us) and his hand (representing his actions on our behalf). They were surprised that they could do that but did it reverently. That was a sacred space for us.

Once when I was agonizing over a situation in my life and commiserating with a friend at lunch who was grieving over a loss, she got a glass of water and a packet of salt and placed it between us. She poured a bit of the salt into the drinking water as she named our concerns and hopes and then she passed the packet to me. I named different woes and blessed her for this ritual. We each drank of the cup and experienced a sacred space between us.

Jesus took a traditional ceremonial meal and turned it into a sacred space between him and his dearest friends gathered in a secluded room. He took the ordinary Seder bread and wine and gave them a new meaning in an intense moment of grief and personal agony. He bequeathed his loved ones with a ritual of remembrance and that sacred space remains part of our Christian worship heritage.

Our challenge is to refresh our understanding of the sacredness of the gift each can give to the other in secure and honest communication. Our challenge is to create sacred space in our relationships and to be alert for those times when a glass of salty water can be transformed into both tears and healing saline solution - times when the divine in us embraces the divine in the other and smiles. May we each be open to creating sacred space.

Copyright © 1995 Charles M. Bidwell