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Oct 16 2013

Sacred Space. Yet Not Alone.

Published by at 11:13 am under Knowing Relationships BLOG


For many spiritual traditions, sacred space is a place to be alone. Big churches, a man alone with a flute, an empty forest, a woman doing meditation, these were the images of sacred space offered up by a Google search.

However, for many of us, sacred space is also a place to not be alone.

My colleague, Marilyn Bronstein, and I just finished a three-year project interviewing couples who loved each other deeply and who were also committed to a spiritual practice. One or both of them was a Rabbi. (Read all about it “Rabbis in Love,” available soon on Amazon or at Sacred space was part of how they loved each other. They created sacred space for their relationship. It was a great lesson and very touching. The book was full of “I-want-that-in-my-life” moments and this was certainly one of them.

Rabbi Ronnie and Karen Cahana talked about Sabbath. For them, it was a sacred space that was also a sacred time. Every week, on Sabbath, they set aside a time only for them, away from what Rabbi Ronnie called, “the bluster of the void.” (By that I think he meant all that busy-business we get caught up in. )

Within that special time, they “raised each other up,” as he put it. I understood him to mean that they appreciated each other, in doing that they increased their value both to themselves and each other. They cherished each other, loved each other, and revealed to each other their most tender secrets.

He said, “It’s kind of being on the lookout for the awareness of the magic and the world opens up to us. And we are so blessed and so, so truly given it all.

He went on to say (and this is what makes it sacred, in my opinion), “To be known just as we are; I think that’s what’s built into Shabbat, into the system of Shabbat. This is a time of eternal paradise. And it’s just strolling together because ‘that’s the only person I want to be with.’ I can’t wait for that. Every Shabbat we bless each other. Every Shabbat we tell each other our secrets.”

I showed the whole interview to several people who said, “We’re going to do that.”

It’s so simple and it is available to anyone who wants it. In order to really connect in sacred space, the main thing you have to do is do a lot less. You have to stop being so busy. That’s what Ronnie meant by “the system of the Sabbath.”

Once you are aware of how much you benefit from deliberately doing nothing there are hundreds of opportunities. For example, you’ve both been buzzing around all day, as usual. You’re both so busy one of you brought chicken already cooked and the other put together a salad. You turn off the electronics and light candles. You stop. Both of you. Together. Stop. You wait. Sometimes the mind takes even more time to shut down than an old laptop.

Finally, the “busy-busy” light flickers out. Something new arrives, a silence that calms you down. Sacred Space, which is really a moment in time, a moment that then fills with affection, like wine in a glass.

Successful couples master the art of doing this. I still remember Karen Cahana looking at her husband Ronnie and moving her hand back and forth between them, pointing to that space between them:

“This,” she said, “is Home. It doesn’t really matter where we are. But wherever we are together, this is Home.”

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