“His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley.
“I wish I had time to tell you even a few of the tales or one or two fo the songs they heard in that house. All of them. . . grew refreshed and strong in a few days there. Their clothes were mended as well as their bruises, their tempers, and their hopes. Their bags filled with provisions light to carry but strong to bring them over the mountain passes. Their plans were improved with the best advice.” (J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit, 61)
I’ve always loved this description of Elrond’s house from Tolkein’s book, The Hobbit. It conjures up the image of what a home should be – a place to sleep, work, eat, sing, rest, where physical and emotional ailments are mended, where evil does not come.
When people enter our home there are a few things my husband and I hope will happen:
We want people to feel loved.
We want them to feel good.
We want them to know that families are important.
We want them to know we worship Jesus Christ.
These are the ways and means we use to make our home a sacred space for all who enter.
In our kitchen/dining room hangs this canvas that I painted. We see it every time we sit down to eat, or sit at the table to do school. It is there to constantly remind our family what we are trying accomplish and it won’t work unless we are all working on it together.
This is our living room wall. We have paintings of Jesus Christ, temples, and other artwork, family portraits and photos of our ancestors scattered throughout our house. It seems no matter where anyone goes in our home they can’t get away from reminders of how important we think our home is and the people that live there.
All the cutesy reminders on our walls won’t do a bit of good if we don’t act on what we know we should do. So why do I have them to begin with? Because the artwork on my walls helps to create the atmosphere I want.
Music is a very important element to creating a sacred space at our house. At various times throughout the day you will hear someone practicing the piano, violin, or guitar. You almost always hear someone singing or whistling. Why?
“Worthy music is powerful. It has the power to make us humble,prayerful, and grateful. . . Music has a sweet power to promote unityand love in the family. . .Music has power to provide spiritual nourishment. It has healing power. It has the power to facilitate worship, allowing us to contemplate the Atonement and the Restoration of the gospel, with its saving principles and exalting ordinances. It provides power for us to express prayerful thoughts and bear testimony of sacred truths.” (Elder Russell M. Nelson,The Power and Protection of Worthy Music, Ensign, Dec 2009)
Good worthy music brings all those things and more into our home and into our souls! You can read more of how we feel about music in our home by reading Using Music to Build Spirituality Part I and Part II
We are just as discerning about other types of media as we are with music. We don’t want pornography of any sort creeping in whether it’s through the internet, magazines, television shows, or any other way. We also don’t want our minds and ears exposed to garbage and filth.
We carefully guard the types of movies, tv shows, podcasts, etc. that we watch or listen to. We want to expose ourselves to that which is beautiful and refined. We don’t have time to waste it on anything less than that.
“As with companions so with books. We may choose those which will make us better, more intelligent, more appreciative of the good and the beautiful in the world, or we may choose the trashy, the vulgar, the obscene, which will make us feel as though we’ve been “wallowing in the mire.” (David O. McKay)
We try to fill our many bookshelves with wonderful books from Harvard Classics to Goodnight Moon to Laddie to Noah Websters 1828 dictionary there are books for every age and taste.
“God speaks all languages, and He speaks them properly. He is restrained and modest of speech. When God described the grand creational process of this earth, He said in measured tones that “it was good.” We would be disappointed if God had to use “awesome” or other exaggerated phrases in every paragraph.
“Britain’s Ben Jonson said: “Language most shows a man: Speak, that I may see thee.” Our language reveals our thoughts, our virtues, our insecurities, our doubts, even the homes from which we come. We will feel more comfortable in Heavenly Father’s presence if we have developed proper habits of speech. We not only wish to see God’s face “with pleasure,” we want to open our mouths with confidence that our speech harmonizes with the refinement of heaven.” (Douglas L. Callister)
Of all the things listed language is the one we work on the most! It can be so hard at times to control our tongues. Sometimes we get lazy and allow ourselves to slip and use crude language or swear words. When that happens any feeling of sacredness immediately leaves. At times it can be hard to get that feeling back.
How we talk to each other also affects the feeling in our home. If there is bickering, snarky comments, or just plain rudeness any welcoming feeling leaves and is replaced with feelings of gloom. On the other hand, when expressions of love are shared, good humor is used, and laughter echoes off the walls it increases the desire to show more love and radiate happiness to others.
In the book Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley her granddaughter tells this story, “At my wedding shower Grandma gave me an iron with a card that read, “Happy ironing! The most enjoyable of all household duties. Love, Grandma H.” It reminded me of when I was trying to decide on a major in college. Grandma told me to study something other than home economics so that when I was at home doing the ironing I would have something interesting to think about. Now, when I pull my old iron off the shelf and run it over a wrinkled blouse, I think of sonnets and Shakespeare . . . and I think of Grandma and smile.”
Don’t you just love that story? I do!
To be balanced we should pay just as much attention to spiritual growth and learning as we do the secular, and not only for ourselves but our children too. One of my fondest memories as a child was waking to find my mother studying her scriptures at the kitchen table. Without preaching anything I knew the scriptures were important to her because she read them faithfully every day. Even now when we go and visit, if I wake up early enough I will usually find her in a recliner reading her scriptures.
Create spaces in each room where a person can comfortably sit and read. I guarantee they will get used! Fill your bookshelves with wonderful things to read, science picture books, globes, maps, etc. Having such things accessible makes it inviting. Instead of turning on the TV in the evening try reading a book aloud to the whole family or learn something together or go on a walk and observe nature. Show your children how fun it can be to gain an education!
“The nearer we get to God, the more easily our spirits are touched by refined and beautiful things. If we could part the veil and observe our heavenly home, we would be impressed with the cultivated minds and hearts of those who so happily live there.” (Douglas L. Callister)
If our objective in life is to get nearer to God than we should be seeking out that which is refined and beautiful, for it is those things which will bring us closer to God. The best place to start is in our homes. Each of these areas helps us to stay focused and not get distracted from our goal.
At the funeral of Marjorie Pay Hinckley she was quoted by one of her children, “As you create a home, don’t get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family. Don’t dwell on your failures, but think about your successes. Have joy in your home. Have joy in your children. Have joy in your husband. Be grateful for the journey.”
Start today to make your home a sacred space!
One of my favorite talks that I refer to often to help me gauge how we are doing to make our home a sacred space is “Your Refined Heavenly Home” by Douglas L. Callister. I’ve quoted it throughout this post and encourage you to read or listen to it!
This post is part of a blogger round-up! Read the tips and experiences these bloggers share in making their homes a sacred space.