Weekly Encouragement: Creating a Home Altar
“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Do you have any kind of a home altar or other place of spiritual focus in your home or garden to be an intentional reminder of your relationship with God?
You probably already have some religious or other meaningful objects at your home. How might you go beyond seeing these as decorations and treat them instead as icons—as windows through which one can better see and experience the holy?
What kinds of helpful objects might you gather? A lit candle; actual icons or crosses; Bibles, prayer books, spiritual books, or art books; photos of loved ones to serve as a reminder to pray for them or to remember special people who have set spiritual examples for you; flowers, plants, rocks, shells, acorns, or colorful leaves to remind you of God’s beautiful creation; original artworks reminding you that human creativity is a reflection of God’s creativity; a bowl or fountain of water to touch as a reminder of your Baptism or to provide soothing natural ‘music.’
What other ways might you involve your hearing? Set aside a place for silence and quiet listening; make your own music; listen prayerfully to recorded music, or have it in the background as you go about other activities; audio books of the Bible, spiritual works, or podcasts; wind chimes as a reminder of the Holy Spirit-like movement of wind.
Or your sense of smell? Flowers, incense, a scented candle, or dried spices to perfume a home altar as a reminder to pray; spiced oil to sniff or touch on your skin can serve as a reminder of your baptismal anointing; a bowl of spices to sniff or rub between your fingers can be used as ‘spiritual smelling salts’ to keep you alert if you get drowsy while praying or reading.
Look around your house and yard and notice the objects and places that may already have a spiritual significance for you—that’s the best starting point. Think what you might use for an altar or focal point: a table, a shelf, a window sill, or a niche for placing the objects that have religious significance for you. Preferably a dedicated space that is not used for anything else.
There is no right or wrong way to make a home altar or place of spiritual focus. Experiment to find what is meaningful for you and for your family. See if you can create one or more places to give you a 24/7 reminder of your 24/7 relationship with God.
The Rev. Bill Queen