Sacred Space

Salt and sea, Of ill stay free, Fire and air Draw all that is fair Around and around The circle is bound     - Starhawk (Miriam Simos) - The Spiral Dance

In this apartment my bed is lofted about 5.5 feet. It provides a very snug spot for me to slide in at night, especially with the ceiling fan being so close. In a way it reminds me of my Navy times, some had, some that I would have had. The little sleeve of space is just like a ship berth.

I’ve always liked little spaces. When I was a little kid, my dad built me little fort areas under the basement stairs. In my first two houses they offered me a small bit of isolation in which to feel totally secure and alone. I dreamed stories and lives in those forts. To me, it makes sense when I draw associations between those old forts and this bed I’m on my way to. The dreams are even the same.

When the correlation game begins to play in my mind, it’s difficult to stop it. After I remember the fort under the stairs, or the solitude and strength found in a tent in the wilderness, or the cells in the monastery in southern Indiana, I begin to see that same sacred space in my own mind. It is there, hidden behind the bright smile or the laughing eyes, or perhaps the tired brow and snapping teeth. Inside that space is a secluded refuge where the gusty winds of life are filtered down to a soft scent on a breeze and the confusions of society are reduced to spiraling self-absorbed thoughts of the divine.

It is as peaceful as any closet and as protected. From inside, I let open the screen door to allow in the Chopin in my headset, careful to leave out the strange noises of the cat near my door. I draw a deep breath and let my mind wander on the thought that in so many places in this very moment, there are so many others in their sacred space as well.

It was one of the first topics of discussion in Eliade’s The Sacred and the Profane, when his treatise on comparative religion espoused the great similarities in the treatment of a sacred space. There were so many powerful shared properties, from the axis mundi to the discussion on microcosmic connotations for the super-space of our existence. And it makes logical sense why it would be so important to so many cultures throughout the ages.

Our understanding of space lies outside our sociological learned behaviors. It is a core emotion granted to us from the beginning. No matter how outgoing, inquisitive or friendly, we each value our moments of isolation. Even if those moments are only a breath in length, they give us strength and resolve. They give us rest.

When I was little I built forts. I played under the stairs, or connected cardboard boxes. I hung sheets from bunk beds and stacked cushions in corners. Sometimes I would invite friends in, just sometimes. These days my cat shares my newest fort with me. He’s climbing up there now, letting me know in his not-so-subtle way that I’m taking too long at the keyboard.

In any matter, I recognize that I’m a person who values and loves his alone time. It is the source of the true me and the place to which he returns every night. It is beautiful and powerful. And you’re all invited.