A Visual Interpretation of Sacred Space (part 1-Sacred Space defined)
Sacred Space does three things:
It focuses attention on objects and symbols and enlightens us to their religious significance.
The symbols within Sacred space describe our perception of faith as a religious community.
It provides a connection between the human and the divine.
Must it be contained physically? NO! Sacred Space does not need walls, windows or doors to be sacred. Conceptually, though, it is easier for us to understand a finite space. The Sacred Space below is the beautiful Sanctuary of St. Mary's of the Assumption in Praha, TX. How would you feel walking into this space-awed, inspired, reverent, repentant? Probably all of that, and more.
Now, check out this next photo. It is a small church near Flationia, TX. But what do you see? What draws your attention right away? The simple cross? Is this not just as powerful an image as the other photo? Neither is more Sacred than the other, but each offers a visual which stirs different emotions and feelings about our connection with and perception of God.
All three elements that make up a Sacred Space are present in both churches. Our attention is focused on the objects and symbols, and both the ornate and the simple provide insight into the religious significance of these objects and symbols.
Moreover, we can see immediately that the symbols and objects tell us something about the perception of faith of each of these communities.
Our connection with the divine is also absolute within each church. St. Mary's connects us to a powerful, beautiful, and awesome God. The Flatonia church immediately connects us to Christ through that simple cross.
Although it may be a while yet, the next time you walk into your home Sanctuary, consciously think about it as a Sacred Space. Look at the objects and symbols around you and think about your community's perception of faith. Soak in the religious significance of the objects and symbols that have been deliberately placed there. And most of all, feel that awesome connection to the divine. Let it fill your heart and mind with peace.
In part 2, I will discuss the mission of the visual artist and how she contributes to Sacred Space.