Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On Tabernacles

I love the word tabernacle. It is one of those words that trips off the tongue and lips in a very satisfying way. Just try it, nice and slow. Tabernacle. I type out the letters one by one and tag on "etymology" in a search engine eager to help. Did you mean...? When I click my yes, I uncover the word taverna (hut or tavern), and tabernaculum (tent). Well, here's a humble beginning for a word which later came to describe something so exalted; nothing less than the bejeweled house of the God of the Hebrews. It was this, his mishkan (residence), which made it possible for the unseen presence to travel with them seen, all the way through the wilderness.

I've been contemplating for some time how a home might a sort of tabernacle or dwelling place for something other than just us. As in, a presence unseen. People talk about houses being haunted, and even if you think that's bogus, we all seem to be able to agree that spaces have a certain feeling to them. What must one do to create a positive atmosphere (at the very least), or even to invite the presence of the living God (to be a little bit more specific)?

For starters, there's always the original tabernacle-building in Exodus. If we look close, we see a man named Bezalel who peeks out of the shadows of the story and takes the spotlight for just a moment. This master craftsman apparently had his "spirit stirred" to put his hand to metalwork and other skills. He, along with other similar souls, were charged with constructing the tented sanctuary as a total work of art. The combination of strong, learned hands and artistic sensibilities was due to specific "wisdoms" they had been given. Wisdom to wield, weld, and make new worlds.

I am in the middle of re-making my kitchen and I want that wisdom. Right now, it all smells of fresh paint and...spice. A week ago,  I dumped everything into new jars which brought order and beauty but also fragrant, escaped clouds of scent. The madras curry, for example, greets everyday me when I come in to make breakfast. Perhaps a little like incense in a church.

Do you think of your home as a sacred place? How long did it take to make it that way? What are the practices that you engage in to keep it holy? 


Joyfulartist said...

First we invited other believers to our home when it was new to us. We asked them to join us in a house blessing, praying that God would always be Lord in this place. Then we disallow the unholy and profane to enter in the form of TV programs, books, movies, internet and other media. Their entrance can be very subtle and we have to be on guard even with our speech.

Abbey von Gohren said...

Interesting! Yes, frequent prayer seems to be a common theme in the responses I've gotten. I would love to chat with you sometime about how you define "unholy and profane."

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