I have a wonderful friend, who has it, in terms of spiritual completeness. People come for miles to attend his beautiful services at Brighton Unitarian Church – he is inspirational. For Christmas his mother knitted him a nativity. I think it may be missing an angel, but this apart, I believe it’s almost perfect. He lives in a small flat close to the sea full of intriguing objects that reflect his passion for life in all its dimensions, artistic, cultural and natural – wonderful books, fossils, fascinating ceramics; it is, without a doubt a sacred space that belongs to a sacred person. I asked him about Christmas decorations, and I’m not confident that there is a lot of space for such frippery, but the knitted nativity is clearly important at this time of year.
I believe my space is sacred too. I share it with my little family, and at this time of year what we lack in a knitted nativity, we gain with our two Christmas trees; one decorated with birds and red baubles and lamentable Lametta of yesteryear, and the other smothered in all manner of jolly things, from balls and bells to robots and flying fairies. They celebrate our love for our home. Sacred space is about love. The space reflects the people who occupy it, and if one is lucky, or better still, blessed, it’s also home to happy energies and entities. Some of these things are almost tangible while other entities are invisible, but one is aware of them. The ancient Romans would call these positive energies ‘household gods’ and give them names, and have shrines around the house with flowers and food and decorations to say “hallo” and express their appreciation of pleasant things of a housie nature. Today one can find such shrines in the homes of Hindu people, and devout Catholics, presided over by Ganesh or Mary. We also have a strange structure in our kitchen that could pass for a shrine. Over Christmas it’s covered in sparkly things, little people and animals; it’s an object of love, but I don’t know which household God it serves…
…Maybe the interestingly named Frigg of Norse Legend who gave her name to a day of the week – Frigday – or Friday if you want to be pedantic. We all have the potential to create sacred space, and if we’re lucky, our energy and concern about what goes on around us is reflected in that place. Very sadly, it seems to me that many churches whose pastors imagine them to be sacred are anything but. They are cold, sad, dusty and neglected. They have lost the love they gave and received. The entities have moved out. There’s no knowing why the household gods or fairies choose to move out, but they do sometimes; I think they depart when love and chi are not flowing. I suspect they also like to be amused and entertained… like cats.
Many years ago when I ran my business my staff constantly laughed at my deference to the office’s household Gods. Year in year out we worked in a dear little building in a street that was a real invitation to the criminal element of Kentish Town, and for some strange reason our office was consistently overlooked. Then one day something happened. In under a week we were burgled twice. So much stuff was taken – even the lock on the door was hacked away and removed. A member of staff observed “Oh dear, the household Gods have moved out,” and they had indeed. Knowing you have something is also about knowing when you don’t.
So if you want to celebrate Christmas in a sacred space that’s home to the fairies – here’s how: take a sip of something delicious, decorate your tree with love, listen to your favourite carol, and send out a message of love to this wonderful world. You can also give your sacred space a lovely gift, and knit a nativity… if you’re gifted with that very special skill.