The Spirit of a Place



Los Angeles artist, J. Michael Walker, has spent the last several years of his life researching the names of the 103 L.A. streets named after saints. From his research he has made a collection of ink and seriograph images along with poetry depicting the saints in unique and contemporary contexts. The culmination of this project will be an exhibition at the Autry Museum early next year and the publication of a book entitled All the Saints of the City of the Angels: Seeking the Soul of L.A. on Its Streets.

What I find intriguing about this project is the artist’s attempt to find the spiritual essence of a place, or, rather, to find his spiritual essence within a place. Perhaps this search is one in the same.

Whatever direction the search, I think it is critical that we, in order to be fully human and whole, need to find that place of “sacredness” where we can encounter and experience the realm of the spirit. This special place can be a physical locale, an established place such as a temple, church or sacred grove, or a mundane place that we have made “holy” for ourselves—a park bench where we rest and feed the birds or a cozy chair in front of a fireplace.

How do you find this place? May I suggest taking a few moments to consider a few questions. Ask youself:

What would my sacred space be like? Is it a real place? If so, where? Is it an imaginary place? Pretend you are describing this imaginary place to someone. Does the space ever change? If so how? What or who populates the space? What can I bring to this space to make it special? What do I take away from it?

Once you have established your space—either a physical place where you can visit or an imaginary one that you visit in your mind’s eye, make it your practice to get to that place as often as you can.

Wherever you go, find yourself there.



Some sources for inspiring you in your search for a sacred space:

The All the Saints of the City of the Angeles Project

Sacred Cartography (at the Soul Food Café)

Sacred Sites: Places of Peace and Power

Lori G. © 2007

The images above were taken by me at the San Fernando Mission, established in 1797. The mission resides on a street named after this saint.



8 responses »

  1. Lori, two years ago I started Sanctuary of Stillness as a sacred place and space of my heart. Then, I found myself seeking still places on earth — quiet, magical places that feel like sanctuary. What you’ve written is highly inspiring and uplifting. You’ve made me want to research more places of sacred sanctuary and to travel to them. Thank you for this thought provoking post.

  2. This really is an inspired post Lori. When we travelled throughout Europe for six months there were only a few places that truly had spirit. Delphi was all I had ever hoped for and Assissi was inspirational as well. A long time ago I wrote about my home, Carnforth and you will find this on the site. Carnforth has spirit. Everyone who comes here acknowledges that. And so, I will not leave until I head off in the same way Darryl did, with a fanfare and enough noise to stop the clocks.

    Can you post this on Places of the Heart as well. Once I get that really going I think this activity would inspire others.

  3. This is a wonderful post, Lori. Sacred spaces are so necessary in our world. And I love the idea of the project that the artist is doing.

  4. what an interesting project. It is true that the world needs more sacred spaces in whatever form they take and I think each persons needs their own sacred space although it may take them a long time to realise this

  5. What a fascinating project; thanks for sharing it with us. My husband was born in San Rafael and then in his early 20’s, he lived in San Francisco. Like Heather, we have found sacred places that really spoke to us in our travels, like Monument Valley and the Black Hills. I think it’s important, too, to make any space one inhabits sacred. Thanks so much for this thought-provoking post, Lori.

  6. I have a sacred place I’ll post about eventually, hopefully this weekend I can get some photos of it to share with everyone.

    But I have others, too: just sitting in the sun on my deck, or points when I used to run and felt totally at peace with myself and my body. I agree with Mari: it’s important to make any space you’re in as sacred as possible. Even a horrid cubicle at work!

    I was in Dublin once on a street that’s famous for having all of these different, interesting-looking doors. I can’t explain it but I was totally at peace there, too.

  7. Joanne, I’m not surprised at all. Doors can be portals to sacred, bringing in positive energy and inviting us out of ourselves to experience Mystery. Never trust a space that doesn’t have a clearly defined entrance or exit.

    Thanks for dropping by.

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