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Sacred Space

September 2002

Every woman must have her sacred space. If you are a mother, it is almost impossible to have chunks of time alone, no matter how urgent your need. I have always needed space, lots of it, and so I try to create it where I can find it. At home I have my study.  By day it is a work room for myself and my children but at night,  when everyone is in bed and I am writing, listening to music,  or just willing myself to turn into air, it becomes a sanctuary.


I have a spot, too, under a special tree in my son’s school.  All sorts of things have happened to me under that tree.  There, with my eyes closed, I have experienced things beyond myself.  I have walked away exhilarated or sad, but always with a sense of connectedness, however fleeting, with that part of me that is purely mine. 


A day at the salon does it for some women.  I’m not much of a salon person, but there are days when I welcome the elements of thoughtlessness and complete surrender in it. I sit there and leaf through magazines I would never buy, have my hair washed and brushed by another, my feet kneaded, nails colored and sometimes I get a lift from being pampered that way.  Your garden, especially if you love to feel the earth and watch things bloom and blossom, can be a healing place as well. For others, it’s retail therapy. Nothing like burning holes into those credit cards. I can’t really get into that. A long lunch with much-loved girlfriends or coffee with a soul companion is more my speed, as long as the energy is nurturing rather than enervating.


There are days, however, when you cannot find that physical space, or simply cannot get to it and that is when you truly have to make it where you are.  I find that my best source of sacred space these days is poetry.  Reading poetry that speaks to me is such a powerful internal experience.  When a certain image appears and nudges at my truths, I begin to feel myself. 


Last week, during a particularly tough day, I opened a book of poetry that spoke so deeply and profoundly to me.  I couldn’t put it down.  I was lost in it.  I started reading one poem after another, going back and forth until a story—mostly mine—had written itself out.  It brought me deep into myself, yes, but from there I was able to walk – a few steps at least– outside and beyond my shrinking world.  It was a cleansing journey. I didn’t stop until I had read the last poem. Exhausted, finally, I fell into a much-needed slumber. An hour or two later, I awoke still clutching the book.  I walked to my study, sat down and wrote a poem.  And that– writing poetry– is my newest and best sacred space.


I’m not very good at it but the process has been tremendously healing.  When I am writing a poem, I am in a different world.  It’s a world of vivid images.  I pull them up from inside me and put them together to create new pictures that are hopefully clear, tight, distilled but still rich in detail.  Sometimes it feels like I’m enlarging the people in the background of a photograph, retrieving them from the haze to tell a story that wasn’t told when it should have been.  Other times I feel like I’m zeroing in on a truth that was thoughtlessly cast away or robbed of its rightful coming.  Because poetry requires skill and precision, I am forced to pay attention. When I am crafting a poem, I am redefining the spaces of my life.  I am literally changed by it and I know this is just the beginning of the unraveling of the many spaces the world of poetry is opening up for me.


I share this because I think it’s important for every woman, especially, to create her sacred space and visit it as often as she can.  It would be great to have that haven outside of your home, but when that’s not an option, we must make room inside ourselves for our outer and innermost lives to merge. It is important to nurture that woman in us who is strong, wild, free and unafraid to experience her power.  If that part of us is fed and given space to breathe, I know we would all be better spouses and mothers: more passionate, compassionate, balanced and whole.


Make your space.  Come to it free of guilt and welcome the texture and softness it will bring into your life.  Spend time in it.  We don’t do it enough.

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