A blogalectic with Masha and Mr. Pond.
This past week, we covered the quest for silence. Masha spoke of going to the wilderness, and Mr. Pond of saying yes.
The making of sacred time involves other steps beside silence, of course, and one of those is creating a place—somewhere set apart, a space where things like silence and ritual can flourish, however idealized that may sound.
I admit I haven't put a lot of time and thought into creating my own space as sacred—not as set apart from the rest of my life, anyway. If anything, our home itself is that place. Lou and I live very quietly, and nearly everywhere you turn in our house, you can spot a crucifix, an icon, a statue, a piece of art. Here in the living room, Mary looks out from the shelf, St. Michael from the wall, Christ from the coffee table beside the Bible and breviary and, at the moment, the Advent wreath. It would all drive some people crazy, I suppose, but for me, it's easier to hold onto faith when I can touch some physical evidence of its enduring nature.
As for a place for art, I am surrounded by the evidence that others have believed and lived as I do, in the sense of being writers: many books. Shelves full. It's an inspiration like no other, if sometimes also a distraction. The Kindle has its strengths and weaknesses and on the whole I'm very glad it exists, but it will never replace that.
To my personality, both clutter and clean-freakery are obstacles to art. I'm comfortable in neither; neat and cozy and lived-in, however, set me at ease. But perhaps I'm just making excuses for the fact that while I truly can't bear chaos for long, I do tend to forget to dust.
There's at least one more crucial ingredient to home decor that serves as a place set apart for both devotion and writing, and that is lighting. Which is hard to come by in the Pacific Northwest, especially in winter—some gray days, when the clouds hang thick and low, it never gets beyond twilight. Sheer golden curtains, generous windows, old-fashioned light fixtures that diffuse the glow of incandescent bulbs, and lamps all get marshaled against the dark and the dingy. Candles, too. When it comes time for prayer, nothing will do but candles; a lamp simply couldn't substitute, not fully. Maybe it's the elemental nature of fire—a dangerous, almost a living thing.
Writing all this makes me want to pull out my notebook and write longhand, by candlelight. That would be an interesting experiment (I wonder if I'd come up with better first drafts, or whether I'd ever come up with first drafts at all). So says the blogger, typing by lamplight directly into the Internet, with the glow of a backlit screen reflecting off face and fingers. I can't deny that modern convenience has its place, not when I love and use it so much.
As with silence, the manner of making sacred space may differ from one person to the next. This is something of mine.