creating a sacred space in the home
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
When I was living in St. Petersburg, I rented a small, airy room in a sunny, high-ceilinged apartment on the corner of Dostoevsky Street and Candle Lane. I lived with a wonderful little old couple, Marina Mikhailovna and Nikolai Nikolaiovich - lovers of great Russian literature, generous with tea and cognac, and faithful Orthodox Christians.
Whenever I left the apartment, Marina Mikhailovna would make the sign of the Cross over me three times, pray over me, and kiss me on both cheeks. Every day or two, she would slowly make her way down the four flights of stairs to attend liturgy and light candles in front of the icons at Vladimirsky Cathedral (where Dostoevsky went to church). And in every room she had arranged a "beautiful corner" (krasni ugol).
In the Christian East, it is traditional to create this sacred space in the domestic church. It is often facing east, as altars in Churches do. It can be elaborate, with many icons, icon lamps, liturgical books, relics, holy water and flowers. But in Marina Mikhailovna's apartment, each room had a single icon of the Theotokos and Christ Child hanging in the right hand corner, with icon l Want to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. amps perpetually lit in front of each. She told me that I should hang my icons in the corner that appears on your right when you are standing in the doorway of the room, making them an object of focus as soon as one enters the room and evoking Christ's position at God's right hand.
In our house we have several sacred spaces - we do have an icon hanging in a right hand corner as you enter our front door, and a few on top of our piano, but our primary sacred space is on the corner of our wide, wooden counter top. This display changes depending on the feasts and is the central point of our home.
The hope is that, in creating these sacred spaces within our homes, they will act as catalysts for St. Paul's injunction to "pray always." We want to keep Christ always in mind, as we sweep up the dust of daily life, break bread, and interact with one another. We hope that this constant reminder of His presence may influence how we choose to speak to each other, the choices we make, and the way we behave, as well as acting as a witness to all who enter our home.