Saturday, May 21, 2005

Finding inner and outer space

I want to share another passage from Spirit of the Home by Jane Alexander. This one is about finding our own space - even if it is only within:

Perhaps you don't have the luxury of a whole room to yourself. It doesn't matter - you can still find a place for the soul in the smallest space, in the busiest, most totally shared home. You just have to think in a more interior way - and be rather more inventive.

In Russian orthodox spirituality there is a concept known as "poustina". Poustina can mean either a physical place, a retreat, or the secret place inside you - the hermitage within. It's a lovely thought: that even in the busiest, most crowded place, no-one can enter into our own internal poustina - unless we invite them. This sense of creating an internal sanctuary is how people have survived against incredible odds and is something worth remembering if, by now, you are moaning that you cannot possibly create a sanctuary - because you simply don't have the space.

In actual fact, few of us are so impoverished of space that we cannot find a single corner to call our own. Think laterally. Are there any spaces in your home which are neglected or not used? Do you have a dusty attic which could be transformed into a private retreat? Or a cellar or shed?....[O]ther places can be...soothing: a particular step on the stairs, the kitchen table when everyone has gone; a rug in front of the fire; the bathroom or laundry room... So, for the sake of your soul, reclaim a chair, or a corner - just somewhere which has your name stamped on it; where others knock before entering or ask before using.

Visualization can help with the inner sanctuary. Create a place you can go to in your imagination and use that for the hermitage within. It might be a cabin in the woods or a hut on the beach or a monastery in the wilds. Practice "visiting" this place during some of your meditation time so that you can go there easily whenever you need to.


  1. Sr. Ellie,

    I really enjoyed this post, helped me to think differently about some less used places in my home, perhaps a retreat is available, where I did not realize it.

    God Bless

  2. Good to hear from you, monk-in-training. Hope to see you again on the blog!


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