Elbow Jabs and Sacred Spaces

Elbow Jabs and Sacred Spaces

The passenger behind me is coughing spastically, and the lady sitting next to me on the plane has bumped my elbow for the tenth time. Irritated, I look up from my computer at the flight attendants who are pushing a cart down the aisle. Elbows in! I know it’s not the best environment for writing a post about Sacred Spaces, but I’m on a long flight from Singapore to Seattle with a looming deadline, so I’ll have to endure all the distractions. If only I had a nice quiet spot where I could write, like a street-side cafe or patio overlooking the beach…

Sacred Spaces. My definition: a space (physical or temporal) to unplug, pause and reflect on the Lord and Scripture. This space allows one to practice gratitude, to pray, and cultivate a sense of awe and wonder. Yes, I’m going to run with this.  

First thought, nature. When I lived in rural Kenya, one of my sacred spaces was on top of our Toyota Hilux. Late at night, after the dishes had been washed and my chickens were safe in the coop, my husband and I would climb on top of our Hilux and stare up at the ceiling of stars. The heavens were so close I felt as if I could cherry-pick a star and swallow it’s flickering light. In those quiet, atmospheric moments, I drew close to God, marveling at His handiwork, and reveling in the knowledge that he loved little old me. 

At times, I felt lonely on top of that car, but it provided a space for me where I could reflect and pray about the things on my heart. Jesus spent time in nature too, in lonely places, to meet with His Father and pray (Luke 5:16; Mark 1:35). I’m sure when it comes to sacred spaces, you have a nature spot that comes to mind as well.

The next round of thoughts have me thinking about my job as a nurse over the last twenty years. The space between a patient and me is sacred- and where I most often ask the Lord to engage my mind and spirit. Whether it is taking a pulse, measuring a baby’s head circumference, dressing a wound, or dispensing medication- I have found the art of nursing care to be holy ground. By inviting God into the act of serving or helping, I’m creating my own sacred space- to be aware and mindful of His presence as I engage with the person in front of me. Some of the most intimate, “sacred space” moments in my life have been coming alongside a woman in labor, or whispering prayers over the soul of one passing out of this life.

I believe that human interaction can often be a sacred space- this can happen in conversation, sharing a meal, prayer, worship, and acts of service. Believers are encouraged to meet together (Colossians 3:15-16), and where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, He is with them (Matt 6:6). I’m sure you can think of times in your life where God used people to create a sacred space for you.

Hmmm? Where else? When else?

My seatmate opens the plane window shade and taps me on the shoulder (you would think she could tell I was WORKING). I sigh inwardly, take out my earbuds, and lean over. When I peer out the window I gasp– the sky is laser blue and the sun is on the horizon casting ruby red and orange streams of light over the clouds below. It’s breathtaking and I catch myself swallowing hard. Our heads practically touch as my seatmate and I take in the view together; we don’t dare look away. “It’s beautiful,” she says. “I know.” I whisper. I sit back and smile at my seatmate, “Thank you for showing me, I would have never guessed what I was missing out on.” We go on to have a pleasant discussion and I find myself prayerfully thanking God for 1) the view, and 2) the opportunity to share this moment with a complete stranger. An unexpected sacred space. 

This experience reminds me that really any place, any moment, can be a sacred space. Sure, we have our own special places that allow for intimate moments with the Lord- a church sanctuary, a park bench, or the kitchen sink. But sacred spaces can also take place in the form of human interaction or activity at the most random times, in the midst of hustle and bustle or sheer silence. Friends, we can create or find a designated sacred space to allow for focused time with God AND we can delight in unexpected sacred space provided by our merciful Father. Case in point: this plane ride. 


Thank you God for meeting me in unexpected ways, especially when I probably don’t deserve it!  Thank you for providing quiet places to ponder and pray in, and thank you for people and plane rides that make a sacred space for me to experience your glory too!  Amen.


Where do you go to meet God?

Has God met you in an unexpected sacred space? Please share below!

7 Comments

  1. Maria January 20, 2020

    I really love this – what a beautiful “coincidence” that you were writing this at the precise moment when God gave you such a sacred space. He is so good to us. I also really love your saying that nursing is a sacred space for you – for me, the classroom can be so sacred. I think it’s because it’s where I can feel God’s pleasure as I do what I know he’s made me to do. And how ironic that these ordinary places can be so sacred – because their being ordinary also makes them so easy to miss. May we have eyes to see!

    1. Monica F January 23, 2020

      Thanks for your response Maria- I love what you say about doing what God has meant for you to do and particularly in the classroom. I believe our vocations can be used for sacred moments and spaces. Your work as a teacher is a perfect example! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Grace L January 20, 2020

    Thank you for sharing, Monica, and for challenging us to think about our sacred spaces. It is 10:45 at night here now and I am about to enter my sacred space with God. My husband has gone to sleep and I am at my computer in our darkened bedroom, looking forward to spending time alone with God in this way. I don’t like writing by hand in a journal and I have come to really enjoy getting my fingers to the keyboard and typing out my prayers to the Lord. After pouring out my heart to Him and lifting up concerns in prayer, I always give Jesus time to write back to me. I love having this intimacy with the Lord as He is always faithful to write to me, His beloved. This is my space and my time to be with the Lord and, even though it is late and the room is dark, it is a special time and place to be with my Lord.

    1. Monica F January 23, 2020

      Grace, this is so beautiful. Even though we haven’t met in person, I can imagine you sitting at a computer in the dark, listening, waiting on the Lord, in such a sacred moment. Thank you for sharing your special time with the Lord. It’s so cool how the Lord meets us in different ways, at different times of day, and on His time. This is great!

  3. Emily Jackson January 22, 2020

    Great post, Monica. Being in nature has always made me feel closer to God. For whatever reason, mountains are spaces that feel sacred to me. Beaches are great and all, but when I’m looking at huge, overwhelming mountain ranges that fill the whole horizon (Alaska comes to mind!) I can’t help but feel God there. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Monica F January 23, 2020

    Thanks Emily! I KNOW you love those mountains, and it’s awesome how God meets you in those spaces. Yes, Nature definitely seems to usher me to God’s presence in remarkable ways- desert, beach, mountains- I’ll take it. Thanks friend for sharing!

  5. Abigail February 8, 2020

    SO good! Thanks for sharing. I know I don’t respond to “interruptions” like Jesus did. And I often have my “ideal” in mind for how the sacred space “should” look. It’s encouraging that God can meet us anywhere.

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