A Symbol of the Sacred

The sunrise met my face this morning as I shuttled my kids to school. The rays had arranged themselves as if they were saying “Ahem.” My mind was caught up in the tasks of the day, even though it was technically my day off: a dentist appointment, laundry, a dabble into the email void. I had little awareness of the sun until the orange paint swatch it had chosen for the day waved itself in front of me, and for moment my brain stopped the list and become joyfully listless.

On a much smaller ‘home-sized’ scale, this is exactly what the second practice of a centering home is: placing a symbol of beauty and sacredness in the midst of the ordinary and mundane. In our house it is a simple candle, a light that points to something bigger than myself and my to-do list.

These faux candles from Ikea 
are a great child-proof option
In the Christian tradition, light has long been a symbol for God. The Apostle John wrote that the “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” When Jesus invokes the sacred in the form of prayer, miracles and metaphor, he uses everyday things. He prays over bread, he walks on water, he calls himself light. These things…bread, water, light…these are the ordinary elements of life. And these are the things God uses to inject the sacred into the world.

Sacred is not a word that comes to mind when we think of our homes. We associate sacred places with houses of worship or nature. We often assume that ordinary spaces inhabit one address and the glorious another. Given the seemingly endless mundane tasks that are all too familiar at our addresses: dishes, laundry, homework to name a few, our homes fall squarely in the ordinary category. And yet in the midst of all this mundane, they are also the backdrop for sacred moments: a child’s first steps, gatherings of friends and family, a quiet moment of prayer and meditation. The home is the place where the mundane and sacred can share the same address, a place for God to dwell with us.

The practice of lighting a candle smack dab in the middle of all that is swirling about our house reminds me of this hope everyday. Our living spaces can host the sacred through the mundane. By placing a sacred symbol in a prominent place in your house, you will see the “Ahem,” a reminder in the midst of all the things that God is there with you.



Comments

  1. Love this! Too often I get caught up in all the to-dos and miss the small moments, the beautiful nudges from God. This morning I was up early to start work but finally paused to enjoy the coffee and the sunrise. Thankful that God nudges us out of the mundane and into His presence every day:-)

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  2. We have a small, simple candle holder in the middle of our kitchen table, and we light it every night at dinner. Some evenings, after dinner is done and my family has left the table to do other things, I find myself sitting alone in the kitchen, focusing on the flame of that tealight. Whether I do so to take a breath and calm myself before the chaos of bedtime starts or to say a prayer for a friend or family member who is struggling, I love having that flame there to remind me of the light in the darkness.

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