(Finally. Back from bronchial purgatory. Thanks for your wishes and concerns.)
When we first moved to Minnesota, Pastor Sarah of the Shepard of the Prairie Lutheran Church of Hickson, North Dakota (the familial family spiritual home base), invited me to be her guest at a day-long women’s retreat. The theme was Renew, Respond, and Rejoice and we covered the gamut from spiritual lessons to physical exercise. But the resource which resonated most for me that day, was a section on creating a personal sacred space, which came from the writings of an Inez Torres Davis, the Director of Justice in the Women of the ELCA organization.
Her pamphlet, which outlined the procedure for setting up a meditation/contemplation place, covered the subject in depth. I was amazed at her guidelines. They were progressive, almost “new-age” in a good way, all about energetic clearing, healing, essential oils, burning sage, and the like, but ultimately about creating/finding a place of peace and grace.
When I came home from the retreat, I immediately began to convert a nook above our stairwell, following Inez’ steps to cleanse, bless and decorate. A soft red Indian kilim for the floor, an old lace curtain for the side railing, a wicker chair from a garage sale with a silk brown pillow that was embroidered “Dream,” Tibetan chimes in the doorway. Upon a small slate table I plopped a Buddha garden ornament that my daughter had given me, a labyrinthe incense holder that had belonged to my son, and my father’s maracas that he had brought back from South America when I was a little girl (for the music). Just above the table I hung my favorite framed Christmas card of angels ascending past stained glass windows and a large photograph of filmily-swathed feet, entitled “Angel Descending.” I figured I had it covered, coming and going.
My sacred space looks out upon the front yard and the magnificent Elm tree. It is where I now write in my journal. Or meditate. Watch the birds. Or just sit and think. Whenever I am stressed, my husband will say – “Go to your room!”
And I wrote about the endeavor on my blog – giving credit and posting pictures of the progress. (See “Sacred Spaces,” July 15, 2011, on snowbirdredux.com to read more about the process.)
Recently a friend asked me how to deal with grief. She turned to me because she knew that we had both lost sons, thinking I might best understand. Her son had died violently in a snow mobile accident as a teenager. My son wasted away with AIDS as an adult. There are no comparisons in the details, but a mother’s loss is loss is loss.
Struggling to find the words for her, any words, I thought of the sacred space and the place I use for contemplation, joy, and grief. I decided to print out the 13 page booklet that I had received a year and a half ago at the women’s retreat and take it to her at our writer’s group gathering. I dug it out of my file drawer, warmed up the computer, and while I waited for the printer to be ready, decided to check my emails.
The first entry was from an Inez Torres Davis.
Huh? I thought. The subject title was “Sacred Spaces.” What?
Confused, I clicked open to read the message.
Inez Torres Davis was confused too. She had been advised, she said, to occasionally “Google” herself in order to see what was “out there.” It had been a year and a half since she had done it, but now she was surprised to see a picture of herself alongside a picture of MY meditation space (who knows who, how, or why the internet gods decided to post that photo with HER bio) along with a link to MY blog (snowbirdredux.com) and the article about my project to create a sacred space based on her writings.
I sat at my computer, Inez Torres Davis’ pamphlet in my left hand, ready to print, wondering why this person would be writing to me, just at the very moment I was preparing to photocopy her writing, which was in reference to my blog entry of a year and a half ago.
Once we both straightened it all out, and delighted in the amazing cross confusion and synchronicity, we began to communicate. Inez is the Director of Justice for the Women of the ELCA. In that office she primarily works on race relations. In my youth I was not just involved, but deeply in the trenches of the civil rights movement. She writes about the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. If you have read this blog regularly, you know that I am passionate about the fate of our Mother Earth. Inez has worked with Bread for the World and writes beautifully about her experience in Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. Huzzah, Kudos, Bravo for that. She is an AIDS advocate. I have been deeply in those trenches too. And, she is a passionate gardener. Need I say more.
Thank you Inez, my new friend.
(You can follow her writings (as I am now doing) at Inez Torres Davis on the Women of the ELCA Blog.)