>> culture Prayer nook Sacred space: With a little planning, you can create a place for prayer inside (or outside) your home
Ever watch those home improvement shows on TV – the ones where a team of professionals takes a spare room and turns it into a home office or a mini movie theater? If you have some extra space in your home, here’s another, more spiritual way to make use of it. Convert it into a prayer nook, a space where you can talk with God without being disturbed or distracted by the outside world.
Big nook or small nook? Don’t have a whole room you can devote to this purpose? Don’t worry. A prayer nook doesn’t have to be in a big space. But it should be a dedicated space – one with no other function than to bring you closer to the Creator. If you’re living in tight quarters, consider these possibilities: a walk-in closet (or half of one), an under-the-staircase space or a recessed area formed by a dormer. Basements and attics may also yield some unused areas. Prayer nooks can be developed outside the house, too – in a glassed-in porch, for example, or a garden shed. Anywhere you can claim a little privacy for yourself will work.
Fitting furniture: After you’ve selected the space you’re going to convert, the next step is to furnish and decorate it appropriately. A chair and/or kneeler are essential to establishing a meditative mood. Handy with woodworking tools? You can find plans and kits for kneelers (or purchase assembled pieces) at www.rosaryshop.com. Another essential item for your nook is a small table or bookshelf to hold a Bible, Butler’s “Lives of the Saints,” or other inspirational writings. A table can serve as a place on which statues and sacred art are displayed and lit by candles. You might also consider draping the table with fabric in the color that reflects the liturgical season. During the seasons of ordinary time, the recommended color is green. For Lent and Advent, it’s violet. For the Paschal Triduum, Easter and Christmas, it’s white or gold. And red is used to mark feast days and holy days.
Sights, smells, and sounds: If you choose to create a prayer nook, be proud of it. On the wall outside, affix a holy water font. And, inside, display a simple cross or crucifix to inform anyone who passes by or enters that this is special space given over to God. Your can also engage your sense of smell in a prayer nook. To create the proper mood, burn incense or pick fragrant flowers and arrange them in a bouquet. Remember how you used to pick May flowers to honor Mary? Here’s an opportunity to revive that tradition. Sacred music also has a place here. A small cassette or CD player is all you need to immerse yourself in an atmosphere of peace and piety. Musical selections might include evocative instrumentals, choral music or even the works of your favorite Christian performers.
For one, for all: A nook is a place where you can isolate yourself in quiet contemplation. But, you don’t have to shut your friends and family out of it. If the space is big enough, use it as a gathering place to recite the rosary, to pray for special intentions or to celebrate the holidays and holy days of the Church together. Welcome any and all who are interested into this sacred space you have created. And have your parish priest bless it, for good measure.