Sacred Space

Chapter seven of
Dear Kim, this is what I believe . . .                           by Bill Loader
Dear Kim,

I have written all this because I want you to know what I really believe. I have tried to be as clear and direct as possible and to set aside thoughts of what people might expect me to say or believe. I know you will sense my enthusiasm; some areas about which I have written are closely connected to what I teach in my work. But some are simply my reflections about faith at this stage of my life journey. I think I can say that most of what I have written here has been my belief for at least the last thirty-five years. Yet there are some areas where my views and attitudes have changed and doubtless will change. I am sharing what I believe in the hope that you and others may find it a stimulus for your own reflections.

There is more than enthusiasm behind what I have written. There are people. I have learned so much through my relationships with my fellow human beings. People are full of mystery. Human beings are extraordinary. Beyond all the words, the appearances, the movements, and yet connected with them, is a thinking, feeling, reflecting being in each person. I can approach, meet, encounter another human being, yet, beyond all I can meet, there is so much more which I don’t know. There is a sacredness, a holy space of inner being which I can sense only at a distance.

It is as though each person is a sacred temple and we meet mostly only in the outer courts. There are special moments when being with someone is more than this. And then there are also moments when, by entering within my own deep inner sense of sacredness, I find myself at one, not only with myself, but also with others and with God. That has little to do with how I feel and a lot to do with what I believe or, better, with what I allow to be.

This deep mystery I share with all other human beings, for I believe that this sacred space is within each of us. When I picture this sacred space as a holy temple, I am aware of entering it in company. There I am never alone. There I find many people. Jesus is there; so are men and women from history. It is Jesus who helps me make sense of what the space is all about. When I listen for God, it is his voice I hear, sometimes in clear tones, sometimes muffled through the cries of human beings in need.

The temple is decorated with panels of faith, the rich traditions of the Bible, the stories of love and courage. The sacred space is filled with all kinds of people, some like me, some very unlike me, some with whom I feel awkward, some comfortable to be with. Yet there is room for them all. The space is not crowded.

Like a dream, the picture is not constant. Sometimes the holy space is not within a temple at all; it is in someone’s living room or on a street or in a prison. Sometimes I am right there in what is happening; other times I am observing from far away. The holiness has nothing to do with being stuck up and proud. It is there when Jesus touches the leper, sits down with Mary, takes a meal with the rogue, Zacchaeus, lifts the children to his lap, confronts the chief priests. The holy space is there even without people: in the hills, the forests, the oceans. It is there when they are replenished and cared for and when they cry out for preservation.

Sometimes the sacred space is filled with silence, wonder at all that is, a kind of still enjoyment of God’s presence. At other times there are voices of concern, conflicting voices, uncertain sounds as people confront new decisions. Some decisions are made in the dark, resolutions worked through on scant evidence, ventures undertaken without the advantage of precedent. The sacred space has room for abandoned experiments, discarded models, broken constructs.

Being in touch with all of this is being in touch with love. It is love which is the sacred energy, the sacred space, the place which makes room for life to go on and which ultimately made room for life to come into being in the beginning. Love was there in the beginning and will be there in the end. It is this love, which is the life of God and which shone through Jesus, which is also there for us in the present.

There is nothing greater that I can wish for, for myself or for you or for anyone else, than to discover that love and be discovered by it. Finding this is finding ourselves and finding one another and, ultimately, it is finding God. This is not a single moment in time, but a sacred space in which to live. It is the sacred space of love and compassion, there for all to enter and for all to share. It is the invitation of God. This is what I believe.

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