Humans seem intuitively to know that there is more to this life than meets the eye, that there is what some would call a “sacred dimension” to our existence. Sacred truths can only be seen, to extend the metaphor, by one’s peripheral vision—never directly. They do not address the traditional five senses. Sacred truths require faith. G. K. Chesterton has described the phenomenon of faith as being like the sun: one cannot look at it directly, but everything else is seen more clearly because of it. And it is in this domain of knowing and yet not knowing, of understanding more than we can explain that sacredness resides.
What is a sacred space? At its most basic, it is a place which invites the contemplation of divine mystery, and encourages an attitude of spiritual openness.* A sacred space is not necessarily where answers are grasped or understood. Rather it is where questions are asked, conversations occur, rituals are perpetuated, dances are performed, songs are sung, and silence is heard—all in the attempt to find answers. But this, in itself, raises questions.
In the end, sacred spaces reveal themselves. They have a way of growing on the visitor, almost like something organic. Some would say they “breathe,” and that the old stories which their walls have witnessed are somehow “whispered to those who listen.” Usually sacred spaces are found in inviting places, which somehow retain the aura of those who have passed that way. Finally, they can be a wonderful antidote to all that is superficial and frenzied in modern society.
Another definition: A sacred space is a site where the human search for meaning and truth and divine inspiration commingles with practices and beliefs in the attempt to find answers.