She went on to describe all the different drugs that she used to take – legal and illegal, to help her deal with intense pain that she felt inside. During that time in her life, she got a job as a cleaner at the cathedral. She described how, in those difficult times, being in the cathedral was like seeing a door being opened into another world, which was open to her should she want it. Now she is on staff at the cathedral and sees it in its reality – cold sometimes, not always working in the way it could, but it is “real” and that is what she loves.
Another man who is a volunteer talked about the need for people to have a space that they can “sink into and just take time out”.
I will go back and watch the rest of the programme to see what other stories unfold. It was interesting to hear people talking so passionately about such an ancient and, some might say redundant, building. It was also fascinating in those two stories that neither mentioned how splendid the worship was or how impressively the educational programme covered a wide range of issues. It was about giving people time and space.
So many church buildings now are locked up during the day because of vandalism and theft. Yet, often if we are having an activity in the church in the evening or on a Saturday, people will come in to say a prayer or look around. Occasionally we also have people seeking financial help or practical assistance. In the midst of a busy, technological world, sacred space is still needed and is recognised as something “other”.
We don’t need to have a cathedral building; we don’t even need a church building to create a sacred space. We just need to have an attitude of “seeking the Divine” and create an atmosphere of tranquillity and welcome. What are your sacred places?