Letters From The Street: What Makes a Space Sacred?

This is my sacred space. It has no alter of crystals, no pictures of deities, no ceremonial feathers, or beads strategically strewn. Its not very peaceful or clean; there’s no privacy here. The only natural thing about this place is the strong aroma of urine or feces it often greets me with. Yet everyday, I feel joy as I gather the garbage, wipe away the smeared food, gum and bird poop, and splash the ground with water to disperse the smells. What do people passing by think of me as I clean this random spot?

What most don’t know is that this has been my part time office for the past ten months. I’ve stood here for hundreds of hours Street Counseling people for free.

Both millionaires and homeless folks have cried here about the same struggle to say no, to ask for help. Elders have contemplated suicide while young children interrupt and insist on playing. Parents, children, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers have collapsed in grief. Others have yelled angrily in my face. Cops have shared vulnerably about the moral and ethical struggles of carrying out their jobs. The flame of inspiration ignites and sometimes dies here. Once a homeless clinical psychologist high on meth gave me good advice on how to hold a better frame for my clients. And almost everyone is trying to figure out how to be authentic, including me.

This spot can be a vortex, where the pace and proprieties of a busy urban street somehow melt away allowing something otherworldly to ensue.This unassuming place has a potent way of equalizing us in shared humanity. Softness, intensity, absurdity, confusion, ecstasy, joy…. this spot is alive with it all. Despite the sea of distraction that envelopes this spot, it is teaching me how to stand in my own place-- wherever that may be. It’s desensitizing me to the smell of shit, showing me how to love amidst the mess us humans make….and I’ve still got a lot to learn.

Like any practice, I’ve been inspired to show up some days and I begrudge it others. Yet somehow through consistency, something magical not quite yet in focus is slowly revealing itself.

What makes a spot special or sacred to you?