The Playfulness of Sacred Space
20 November 2012
Sacred space within youth work was an unfamiliar term to me a year ago. However I have begun to notice that it is an entirely appropriate description for the space that the youth work here at Urban Hope has created for young people. It is easily associated with a physical space that has been set aside for youth work – a space that is safe and relieves young people from the pressures and strains of their world. It can also be clearly identified with the various clubs that young people are a part of - that give them a chance to breathe, reflect and consider their world, to be who they want to be, who they are, without the need to conform to any outside standard and most importantly to play. There is a playfulness at Urban Hope.
It strikes me that not only the sessions or clubs that young people attend but also the whole organisation of Urban Hope is sacred space for our young people. The time they spend with the workers carries the sense of sacred space; a chance to relax and share, to be heard without having to fight for it, secure boundaries, freedom to be, ritual activities that comfort in their familiarity, a chance to go deeper or choose to skim along the surface enjoying the process and enjoying the playfulness. This space does not just happen. It requires careful consideration and intention. Authors Dean and Foster write that creating sacred space for young people involves intentionality behind the provision of space to be and to play: it means “going beyond providing wholesome recreation or one more game… If it breaks the rhythm of our driven-ness, if it relieves the accumulated stress of our lives, then it has the potential to serve as true recreation, a renewing of body and spirit.” I see this intentionality every day in the office as the youth workers considerwith love and care how best to support each young person they meet. And there is a desire to take joy in the young people and the relationship that develops. It is this playfulness of sacred space that is so special: the chance of recreation, to see the world and oneself with a different type of consciousness – the way a child might look at an upturned table and see a boat - and it is this that provides freedom for positive growth.