In May I’m attending a retreat for church leaders. They wanted a personal statement along with the application to, in part, answer the question: “What is your experience in holding sacred space for others?” Initially I had no idea how to answer that. It struck me as one of those airy-fairy, psychobabble sorts of questions – BS, for which I would have to make up a BS answer. Finally, I wrote that I wasn’t sure what was meant by the question, but I felt that when I assist serving communion at the altar, I feel like I am holding sacred space for each person that comes up..
The question has been nagging at me. What does it mean to hold sacred space? I think that any time we respect our relationships, we are holding sacred space, especially when we are making ourselves available to the other.
There is a video that has been circulating amongst horse people. It is by a young woman who calls herself “halfpassgal.” (A half-pass is a dressage move.) The video shows her working with some very difficult horses – bucking, bolting, rearing, refusal to move forward – and eventually they all mellow out and settle happily into their work. Horse people love this video so much because it shows how she works with each horse calmly and unemotionally. She doesn’t get angry, she doesn’t punish, she just keeps insisting that each horse move forward and do what she’s asking it to do. (You can watch the video here.) Her comment is that “these are not problem horses; these are problem pasts.” What she is doing is holding sacred space for each horse. She respects who they are, what they have experienced, and invites them to experience something different, while not permitting them to hurt her.
It is my responsibility to hold sacred space for Angel every time we work together. No anger if he misbehaves, no frustration, no drama. Just accepting his horsey self and allowing him to understand and do what I ask. That is holding sacred space.