The Imperfect Home
Sacred spaces are reflections of us, our needs, our souls
Sacred homes aren't necessarily clutter-free. They aren't tidy and flawless. They aren't filled with storage bins, baskets and containers of every shape and size. They aren't replicas of the immaculate images we see in magazines or on Pinterest.
Rather, sacred spaces are filled with what is significant and special to us—and that will differ depending on the person. In fact, sacred homes are often filled with the very items we're told to toss (recycle or donate): ticket stubs, holiday cards, mismatched silverware and mugs, and books we haven't read.
My home is filled with these things. There are books in every room. Even the bathroom has a basket, which includes a poetry collection and design book. Because I've always dreamed of having my own library, in our front room, brown bookcases line the walls. They’re packed with tattered, musty books purchased in used bookstores. I’ve yet to start many of them. But to me books are the essence of a sacred space.
I also keep greeting cards and letters. Boxes of them. In one box, there are letters from my best friends—almost 20 years ago—when we were just teens. Letters about school and boys and big emotions. Mundane and important things we would've texted each other—if Zack Morris weren’t the only one with a cell phone back then. I have another box with letters and cards from my late grandmother. To me handwritten letters are also the essence of a sacred space.
We have old silverware and mugs. Some silverware is from Russia—but there’s nothing heirloom about the water-stained forks and spoons. Among the mismatched mugs is a particularly ugly cup, which belonged to my paternal grandma when she lived in America. I’m not sure where it came from but she used it, and so I keep it.
Sacred spaces are reflections of our loves, our styles, our imperfect, messy, wonderful selves. They’re reflections of our messy, wonderful lives.
Sacred spaces speak to our needs. In other words, when you're creating your sacred space, instead of figuring out what goes and what stays based on shoulds and external guidelines, go within. Ask yourself: What are my emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs? What am I yearning for? When I peel away the layers, what resides in my heart?
Write these needs down on a piece of paper. Maybe you’re yearning for deep connection. Maybe you’re yearning to be intellectually challenged and to express yourself in artful ways. Maybe you’re yearning for calm, a satisfying exhale, when you step inside your home. Maybe you’re yearning for play.
Then think about how your home can meet these needs. How can each room provide deep connection or calm or play? How do your needs translate into a tangible space?
Maybe you’d like books, crayons, magazines and glue to be easily accessible—maybe even in every room. Maybe you’d like to keep tables free of placemats and formal dishes, so your family can use them as creative surfaces at any time. Maybe your need for deep connection translates into more family photos on the walls, images of landscapes and a beautiful altar by your bed. Maybe you create cozy nooks for sitting and chatting.
Maybe your need for play translates into a room filled with Legos, train sets and coloring books—whether you have kids or not. Some people make their spare bedrooms into gyms or yoga rooms. And you might have a playroom. Because when it comes to your home, there are no rules.
Next consider if there are objects that don’t meet your needs and only overshadow them. If there are, then it might be time to let them go. Or it might be time to move furniture around or shift things in other ways. Because our homes, like us, are ever-evolving.
Walk from room to room, looking at each space through the lens of your needs, looking from inside out. Of course, if you live with a partner, roommate, kids or other individuals, see if they’ll join you in exploring their needs. Brainstorm together how you can create a home that meets everyone’s deeper yearnings.
Our homes become sacred spaces when they reflect the very people who inhabit them, when they contain the things that speak to our souls. Which might be worn or shabby things. Which might seem utterly useless or worthless to someone else.
Ultimately, think of your home as a tangible, concrete representation of you, your needs, your soul. Think of it as a container for what truly embodies, inspires, uplifts, soothes and moves you. Because that’s what sacred spaces are made of.