14 Aug 2022

Every soul deserves a sacred space says Offaly influencer


Ronan Scully

There are times on our journey through life that we simply need to tend to our heart and soul just like we tend to our body. Every soul deserves a sacred space, a place to connect to Source, to focus on what is sacred and passionate within her heart. In this sacred space a soul is free to connect to God, through a dance of communication unique and genuine, and of which only a free Being can aspire to.

A sacred space is a protected area where hopes, dreams, visions, prayers and thankful joys, all can be placed in full sight upon a personal altar. A special focus where love can be celebrated and a place where sorrows, yearning and losses, can be mourned. Every soul deserves such a sacred space.

A sacred and personalised space to dwell in, for comfort and solace. I crave my sacred space times for meditation and prayer which because of it have become a good habit to me. I go daily here, praying for loved ones, for people I care about and people who asked me to pray for them for one reason or another , visualising healing for myself and others, and most important of all I replenish depletion of my life force by plugging into God

. Life is difficult and tragic, delicate and fragile, breathtakingly beautiful and irreplaceable. Life is immortal and transformative, a miracle, a joy, both powerful and gentle. We can create a space in our home where we can retreat to and find God. Creating a designated space for prayer, quiet, solitude, silence, and listening within our home allows us to hear God’s voice in our life more clearly.

Soul Space

We should try if we can, although the unpredictability of life can hamper it, but we should always try to make a sacred soul space for ourselves. There is much talk in our world today about tending to our bodies especially from a physical and mental point of view. All types of media pour out the idea of taking care of one’s body, so we can be healthy, attractive and live longer. But what of our soul? Surely, it has importance as well. Perhaps even more than we think! Every day, we have a choice whether or not to tend to our soul and to create a sacred space for it in our daily lives.

Yes, we can neglect it if we want. But I feel when you neglect your soul and create a sacred space for it in your life, the beauty and radiance of who you really are can lead to a life of despair, busyness, worry, fear, chaos, ego importance or confusion. We can lose sight of who we really are. For me looking after the life of your spirit and soul is like cultivating a sacred place where one can retreat too. A beautiful and balanced sacred place does not happen without effort.  Once you begin to construct your sacred space and once you are ready to use it, you will find yourself drawn to this place more and more as you'll crave the solace and comfort it provides.

Place all the loose ends of your life here and see what happens. Sit here and listen to your soul and spirit. Pray, contemplate, meditate, reflect, listen and dream the dreams of the creator. As you carve out your own piece of heaven on earth you not only uplift your soul and spirit and create harmony in your life but transform every aspect of yourself. Create your own sacred space where you can soak in the Presence of God and be restored in your prayerful and reflective devotions. In the process, you will begin to expand and notice that every space becomes sacred.

You are bringing heaven on earth. You are creating a place that grounds you, a place that grounds you in eternity and in God. Whether human-made or springing from the natural world, a sacred place connects us to a reality that transcends our fears. The ocean, the forest, the rising or setting sun may all define “Sacred”. But humans can make places that hold and extend the best in us beyond the world that inevitably threatens and saddens us. We can all create places where we feel part of a Sacred reality. In our busy hectic lives, our sacred space gives us the chance to 'Be still and know God', to refresh, reflect, renew and relax in God's presence.

Soul maintenance
An important step in soul maintenance is to cultivate a sacred place where you can nurture your relationship with Our Lord through prayer, contemplation, meditation and reflection. With proper care, reflection, contemplation, meditation, prayer and love, our spirit and soul lives can thrive and flourish. However, should we neglect ourselves and our soul and spirit, we wilt, sink, fade, and wither like untended flowers.

This neglect often comes during difficult, stressful, worrying, sad and chaotic times in our lives. But spending time reflecting and praying, be it for two minutes or two hours at any time of the day or night, can help restore and rejuvenate us and give us strength to allow us to resume running around dealing with life's ups and downs. Visualising the soul as we dwell in a sacred place helps us to really feel an inner space and peace that is sacred, beautiful and filled with life.

Here, we can sow the seeds of all our most cherished loving and wonderful life experiences and weed out the self-defeating doubts and worries we have acquired from the time on our life's journey so far. We must try to establish this awareness more firmly in our lives in the present moment, so that we can experience our souls and spirits more consciously. Such efforts can be distilled down to a central, core practice of one of quieting the habit-mind and concentrating, meditating, contemplating and praying fully at our sacred space at the moment at hand. As time moves forward on our sometimes short journey of life we may be surprised to discover a bountiful harvest of blessings, not only in our own body but in our radiant spirit and soul, as well. As usual a story from my Nana Scully's prayer book might help.

John's Sacred Space
John was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our parish community for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well. Before his retirement, he took the city link red bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the road to the bus stop often worried us. He had a slight limp from an old sporting accident. Watching him, we worried he may not make it through our changing community with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs and drug activity.
When he saw the flyer on our local parish church bulletin board asking for volunteers to care for the gardens around our beautiful church, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up. He was well into his 80th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering the flowers and gardens for the day when three hooligans approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?" The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a cheeky smile.

As John offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed John's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, John's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled. John tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the priest and sacristan came running out to help him. Although the priest had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "John, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the priest kept asking as he helped John to his feet. John just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. "Just some young hooligans. I hope they'll wise-up someday."

His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water. Confused and a little concerned, the priest asked, "John, what are you doing?" "I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply. Satisfying himself that John really was alright, the priest could only marvel. John was a man from a different time and place.
A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before, their threat was unchallenged. John again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the road, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done. John just watched them.

Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering. The summer was quickly fading into autumn. John was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack. "Don't worry old man. I'm not going to hurt you this time."

The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to John. As he helped John get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to John. "What's this?" John asked. "It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet." "I don't understand," John said. "Why would you help me now?" The young man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with the hooligans and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate." He stopped for a moment.

"I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked off down the road. John looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago. He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular, the priest noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The priest spoke of John's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice with shed tears, he said, "Do your best in life and make the garden of your soul as beautiful as John's garden. We will never forget John and his garden made beautiful by his soul."
The following spring another flyer went up in the parish church bulletin board. It read: "Person needed to care for John's soul garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the priest's office door. Opening the door, the priest saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.

The priest recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to John. He knew that John's kindness had turned this young man's life around. As the priest handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of John's garden and honour him and make a beautiful garden of your soul." The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as John had done. In that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the parish and community. But he never forgot his promise to John's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought John would have kept it. One day he approached the priest and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday." "Well, congratulations!" said the priest, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?" "John," he replied....

Thought for the week
As your thought for the week, always remember like John to share from your sacred space the life giving gifts of love, mercy, forgiveness, truth, kindness, compassion and hospitality to your world around you. Try to create a sacred place the way God might do it. May God’s sacred space continue to grow in your soul and may your spirit of goodness always thrive as you make your journey through this sometimes short life!

Here is a prayer blessing by Eileen Karpeles for a sacred place that I use for mine. "Out of wood and stone, out of dream and sacrifice, out of love for Our God we build a sacred space. Out of the work of our hands, hearts, souls and minds, we fashion a sacred space and a reality. May this sacred space be truly a place of meeting: meeting in warmth, joy and openness; meeting in courage, faith, prayer, love and trust. May all who enter here trust one another so surely that they may share the deep fires that burst into anger as much as the sweet spring waters that swell into laughter; the slow erosion of wounded tears as much as the soaring of our joyful spirit. May these walls know silence as our hearts search inward, each for its own small spark of hope that might otherwise be snuffed out in the noise. May these rafters hear the voice of the child as surely as that of the orator and the sound of the lute and the clack of the typewriter and the swish of the broom and know that all are as holy as the shout of a million stars. May the rain fall lightly on this sacred space and the sun shine warmly and the winds blow softly and bless it as a place of sacredness, joy, meditation, prayer and peace.  In this sacred place of affirmation, God's love shall be. God is love. We come from God. We return to God and in between we become love. All things come and go. God's Love endures forever. Amen."

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