Weeks away from the due date for our third child, I find myself in full-out nesting mode! I am not sure where the energy or drive comes from, but with both of my other pregnancies, something deep within me suddenly propelled me into the action of prepping the space to welcome a new child. This pregnancy is no different. For the last two months, I felt the desire within me well up, and I began the ritual of prepping our home for the birth of our new little one.
This time around, creating a space and place for our new child in our home comes only six months after we moved into a new house, and only 18 months after we moved to a new city. I am mindful of the powerful effect that organizing and creating space in our external environment is having on me internally. As we work our way through each of the rooms in the house, hanging meaningful pictures, carefully placing memorabilia in its deserving place, and finding places for our belongings, I am noticing a loosening within me and a return to inner stillness. My physical environment is impacting my ability to tap into my inner space where I can more easily access God in my day-to-day life.
This awareness comes as no surprise to me, but more as an affirmation of the importance of space and place when it comes to our prayer lives. Often, as I listen to people during spiritual direction speak about their prayer lives, I ask them to tell me about their space and place of prayer:
- Where do you pray?
- What does your prayer space look like?
- What materials help you in your prayer life?
- When do you pray?
The answers to these questions can help us check in on the health of our prayer lives. We may find that the place or the space we initially carved out for prayer is no longer working for us. Maybe there are distractions within our spaces and places of prayer that did not initially exist. Maybe an external event in our lives impacted the time we carved out for prayer, and we need to tweak when we set aside time to be fully present to God. Perhaps the materials we are using as a guide have exhausted themselves, and God is inviting us to a new way of being with God.
St. Ignatius speaks to the value of our space, place, and posture of prayer in the Spiritual Exercises (#73-79). He offers the example of how even our physical posture during prayer is important: “If I find what I desire while kneeling, I will not seek to change my position; if prostrate, I will observe the same direction, etc.”
St. Ignatius suggests that the space and place within which we pray matters. Nature, too, seems to bring forth this knowledge of the value of space and place within me, as I wholeheartedly embrace the nesting that I feel strongly called to in this moment. Intentionally creating our space and place for prayer allows us to access more readily our inner stillness and silence so we can fully be present to God.