"In my experience, and often to my surprise, 'this way' has been to deeper paths internally and not somewhere 'out there;' and the only way to it is to create the internal third space."
When American sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the phrase "third space" in 1989, it was said that he was considering third space as the place between home and work where people can "just be" and "let their hair down." With 3rdSpaces.Com, we take a deeper look, using Oldenburg's definition of third space as a foundation and jumping point. We're looking at the spiritual third space.
The spiritual third space isn't about being any one place specifically, like Oldenburg's book suggests (The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts and How They Get You Through the Day), but about being aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit right where you are, including internally.
So, if the spiritual third space, this internal sanctuary, isn't a physical place, what is it and how do we experience it? Perhaps it is a feeling, a sense, but it's one that is rooted in the heart center of the body -- a place deeper than you can touch physically. In thinking of it that way, it is a place where you go but it's an internal place.
As with traveling to a physical destination, there are challenges (mostly unexpected!) in getting to the spiritual third space. There may be detours and last minute turns that lead down uncharted paths, long waits with lights out and no signs of where to go next, and backed up traffic (unresolved/healed issues that block clarity and closeness with God), let alone no GPS signal!
The spiritual third space -- or internal sanctuary -- is an opening where peace and comfort, despite physical conditions, saturate your physical and spiritual being. It's not a place where you ignore your challenges, pains, and discomforts but rather a place where you learn to sit with them. A place where Love is unconditional for self and others. It's where the presence of God is known and experienced above all else.
Because God is not confined to our image or our mind-made boundaries (thank goodness!), we are able to create this sanctuary in many ways and at any time. But it requires certain openness.
Here's a list of what I've learned is required to create my inner sanctuary:
- Belief that God wants to enter my heart and dwell within,
- Willingness to accept this Love even though I may not understand it (or feel I am worthy of it),
- Surrender my thoughts,
- Intentionally slowing down and being quiet,
- Trust of the process, and
- Honest desire for God to surprise me!
This spiritual journey requires us to believe there is more to us and to life than what we can see or feel. There's a knowingness we sense; a knock on our hearts, in our souls, that says "this way." In my experience, and often to my surprise, "this way" has been to deeper paths internally and not somewhere "out there;" and the only way to it is to create the internal third space.
It is written in the Old Testament that God tells the people of Israel to make a sanctuary that he may "dwell among them." I believe that God speaks to us to create an internal sanctuary. The third space makes room for this dwelling, this depth of intimacy and joy, and the greatest awakening we can ever experience.