Question of the day: where is your favourite place in the house?
If you are anything like me, you are probably sick of the sight of the inside of the house. Although I do have a few favourite spots. I am fortunate enough to have a little box room in our house that I use as office space. It's a great place to work because it has really big windows and so it is nice and bright with lots of natural light. I have a little old settee in there that sits against one of those windows - it's not the most comfortable place to sit but, if I pull up a chair and put my feet up, it's a really lovely place to read. I like it because, most of the time, I am not disturbed by the busyness of the rest of the house. In there I find it easy to think and often it's also a great place to pray.
I know that I can meet with God anywhere and yet invariably I find that there are particular places where I find that easier. Perhaps it is because those spaces are free from distractions or perhaps it is the connection that I make with them that helps me to be in the right mindset. Whatever the reason, those spaces become sacred spaces.
I have also noticed that that sense of sacred space isn't always present for me when we are worshipping online. I suspect this is because I am not sitting in the place where I most connect with God. Instead of in my nice cosy window seat, I am sat in the lounge where I watch TV or I am sat at my desk where I work. Neither of these spaces are where I would usually go to pray or to worship but they are the most practical places to have a Zoom call.
I wonder if any of you feel like me?
I wonder if these practical spaces could become sacred spaces with a little bit of thought?
Often in church buildings we create an atmosphere of sacred space by our adopting a particular mindset as we enter the building. Those of us who lead try to help this by attempting as much as possible to create a calm and quiet environment for people to come into or by using candles, music and images that remind us of the presence of God. In reality, church buildings are just buildings but the way that we use the building and the atmosphere that we create makes that space sacred.
I do think we can recreate the sense of sacred space at home even amongst the distractions. Here are some of my top tips:
- Have a tidy around before you join the service so that any bits and bobs that might distract you are out of the way.
- We love to see your face on screen when we are in Zoom services but if seeing yourself distracts you, go into the video options and turn off self view so that we can see you but you don't have to continually look at yourself.
- Think about lighting a candle, having a cross on the table with you, an image to look at or a bible to help you to focus.
- Try to give yourself a bit of time before you come online to help you get into the right frame of mind and perhaps play a worship song.
- Put your phone in another room (unless you are using it for the Zoom call) so that it doesn't distract you.
- Think about where and how you are going to sit. What posture helps you to worship?
- Try to join in the prayers, the responses and songs that are on screen – it can sometimes feel weird because we can hear our own voice much louder than we would be able to if we were all together in the church building but the more you do it, the less strange it feels.
- Try to avoid chatting with others in your household during the service and focus in on the service or prayer meeting.
- Once the service is finished, why not go out for a short walk or take yourself off to a quiet corner of the house to have space to process.