The Messy Sacred by Robyn Jones

House in human hands -- the messy sacred

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell wrote often about sacredness, whether sacred spaces, sacred rituals, or sacred living. One definition of “sacred” means connecting with a God or gods, while another means having immense respect or reverence for something. No matter what definition you ascribe to the word “sacred,” it undoubtedly evokes awe. This awe can make us put the idea of sacredness up on a high pedestal, when it is more important that we recognize the sacredness in our everyday lives. We embrace the messy sacred.

In my mind, a sacred space should be pristine, a sunny space with gleaming wood floors and velvety pillows scattered around the floor. My ideal sacred space smells like fresh lemons and has the soft sounds of wind chimes outside an open window. My reality is quite different- my wood floors probably have random tufts of dog and cat fur, and my space is more likely to smell like garlic from last night or my daughter’s overzealous application of Victoria’s Secret body spray. A home shared with two kids, two dogs, two leopard geckos, and a cat will never be pristine, and is much more likely to have a medley of dogs barking and EDM than wind chimes. And yet, this is the messy sacred space where I can find myself again and again.

Sacredness happens every day, and it happens even when the kitchen counters are cluttered. Sacred living occurs even when our space is not perfect, perhaps even because our space is imperfect. If sacredness is connecting with your God or gods, that can happen in even the messiest of places. If you define sacredness as regarding life with reverence and awe, that can take place anywhere. Being present, breathing in, being thank-full, and connecting can all occur in the space that you find yourself again and again.

Allowing sacredness into your space means letting go of the idea of perfection. Even though bookstores have entire shelves of books equating perfection with sacredness, I think that trying to achieve an unattainable perfection can actually kill sacred living. If we become so enamored of the idea of that pristine space in which we can meditate and breathe, then we elevate it to a plane higher than true sacred living.

As challenging as it is, I am trying to make room for messy sacred space even among my chaos. I try to breathe deeply without getting rid of the garlic smell. I meditate amongst the stacks of kid stuff, knowing that sacred space can be found even in clutter. I work daily on being present and intentional although I live among a menagerie of kids and animals, seeing the fur and piles of kidstuff as signs of plentiful love. I set up a corner in the guest room with soft pillows and wind chimes, knowing that this little spot that I carve out in the imperfection is my sacred space where I can find myself again and again. I feel present as a leopard gecko scampers across my lap, reminding me of how connected we all are. When I feel perfectionist thoughts creeping in, telling me that I need my sacred space to be pristine, I remember that sacredness is most often found nestled amongst the blessed mess.

About the Author:  Robyn Jones is a writer living in the foothills of Colorado. When not writing or blogging, she can be found on the trails with her dogs, digging in her community garden, or with her nose deep in a book. Visit her blog at




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