“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.” –Mother Theresa
There are some places on this earth that affect everyone in an almost spiritual way. Whether the places actually have spiritual energy, or are just so awe-inspiring and beautiful that they turn visitor’s thoughts to God is of little consequence. What matters is that people visit and they are changed, at least for the moment. Even if they had spiritual doubts before the visit, they leave with a little more certainty that life is definitely graced by some higher power.
I have always been very attuned to these sacred spaces. Or maybe, because of my desire to keep God close in my thoughts, I have always taken the time to stop and feel the sacredness of any new place that I visit.
I have traveled through most of the continental United States and have felt complete reverence when seeing wild horses running across wide open fields; eagles soaring up the sides of sheer mountain cliffs; water falls cascading from great heights and sunrises and sunsets that could only have been created by a creative, artistic being of Supreme beauty and awareness. I have been just as awed to watch the delicate beauty of a butterfly as it lights on flower after flower, or to watch the progress of a tiny acorn dropped from a tree as it sprouts and grows into a robust oak. I have never questioned for a moment that these tremendous scenes of beauty were created by a benevolent and generous God.
Not only has He graced our world by filling it with such beauty, but in His infinite wisdom, he has made us guardians of all of this beauty; He has given us “dominion over every living thing that lives upon the earth.” (Genesis1:28).
Whenever I feel myself getting out of touch with the spirit that guides me, all I have to do is find a few moments to sit and recognize the detail and the wonder of the beauty around me. That is why, when my husband and I decided to build our own home, it was very important to me to find a place where I felt this sacred energy. I wanted to live in a place that I could feel God’s presence every day. I wanted a place where I could talk to God and hear God talk back. I wanted a place that would start my day off with this sense of wonder of the loving generosity of the Almighty, and a place to which I could return at the end of a long day to regain my spiritual certainty. Although any place can be a sacred space, a natural environment of trees and animals was an important part of my vision for my ideal home.
Since we live in a rather crowded, urban section of Florida, I knew that the right place would be hard to find. I spent months going over maps and driving up and down streets and traipsing through uncleared land but nothing seemed to be just right. I would return tired and disappointed at the end of the day to our crowded little home in the middle of a busy town, but would find solace in the silence of our yard, watching the butterflies and squirrels visiting our tiny gardens and trees.
The first time I saw the two-acre piece of property we now own, I knew it was a place where God lingered. I heard Him there almost immediately.
The wind whispering through the huge graceful oaks, gently swaying the long strands of Spanish moss, seemed to say, “I am here. Stop and visit Me.”
I knew at that moment it was the perfect place to build our home. Not only did I have a strong desire to live here in this enchanted forest, but I felt a strong need to buy it for another reason: I had to protect it. I had to make sure that whoever did buy it retained as much of the natural beauty as possible. I had to make sure that someone bought the property who could hear the whisper.
There was no “For Sale” sign on the property, so I looked the address up on the County tax rolls and contacted the owner. It took several months of negotiating but I finally talked her into selling the property. The sacred space was now ours!
The trees and underbrush on the property were so thick, that we had never even seen the entire piece of property when we purchased it. All we could see was what was visible from the road. But somehow we knew that the beauty we saw from the road extended the entire two acres.
We spent the first two weeks after the sale with hand clippers and a saw, gently cutting paths throughout the property. The entire experience was filled with a sense of complete wonder. Every turn we took brought us to a new scene of beauty. Tiny shoots pushed their way up through the pine-needle covered forest floor. Squirrels stopped their scampering across tree limbs to look us over, to see if we meant them any harm. Turtles with beautiful multi-colored shells would stop their eating long enough to turn their long necks in our direction, and then slowly return to their nibbling of the lacy ferns.
When we made our way all the way to the back of the property, there was a beautiful clearing where light streamed down through the feathery canopy of oak and pine and danced across the leaf covered ground. Butterflies floated from wildflower to wildflower as birds filled the air with their delightful songs. I propped my tools against a tree and just stood and listened. The whisper was definitely there….everywhere. “Be still, and know that I am God.”
“Thank you.” I whispered. “Thank you for allowing me to find this beautiful piece of land…..this beautiful PEACE of land.” I was answered by a light breeze that rustled through the tops of the trees, creating a gentle shower of falling leaves that caressed my shoulders and arms and landed by my feet. I felt total peace and protection and love. I knew that I was home.
It has been over seven years since we purchased this land and, as unobtrusively as possible, squeezed our home into a center clearing. Our living here is like living in God’s comforting embrace.
Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of God’s artistry. Hawks, owls, turtles, rabbits, foxes, squirrels, butterflies and hummingbirds float and fly and wander through our property. The land and the animals upon it teach me the lessons of birth, rebirth, death and serenity. I realize the importance of this sacred space to my emotional well being.
I believe it is important for each person to have their own sacred space…..someplace that they can go to just sit and listen to the presence of God. No matter how busy your life is or how crowded you believe your personal environment may be, taking the time to find your sacred space can be the difference between a life of uncertainty and a life of Holy understanding.
All you need for your sacred space is a place quiet enough to listen, not just with your ears, but with your eyes and your heart and your soul. You can lie on your back and watch the movement of the clouds or sit in a chair and watch the wind blow through the trees. If you are fortunate enough to live near an ocean or a forest or a mountain, visit them often. But those places are not necessary to connect with the spiritual energy of life.
Just take the time to listen. Be still and know that the beauty around you is God. It is a gift of Himself to you. Be still and listen. It is through the listening that you will regain your certainty that you are not just a visitor to this sacred space that is life. You are a part of it. Be still and know that God is not only around you, He is within you. Be still and you will know.
Absolutely beautiful writing Betsey. Such a spirited soul with a love of Mother Nature.