Encountering the Other in Sacred Space

“Our relationship lives in the space between us – it doesn’t live in me or in you or even in the dialogue between the two us – it lives in the space we live together and that space is sacred space.” -Martin Buber 

Such a beautiful quote by the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, who is probably best known for his amazing work I and Thou.

But what is that space between us?

It’s hard to wrap our hands around it, and to really grasp what it is.

I feel it in therapy sessions when a client shares something so personal, or has a new sense of awareness, that you can’t help but stop and just honor what has just been said or has taken place. Honor that sacred moment.

I feel it in those connections with my wife when we are able to be two completely differentiated and free beings, in a mutually reciprocating relationship.

It’s most elegantly and perfectly found in the sacred space between members of the Trinity-Father, Son, and Spirit. I like how theologian Miroslav Volf writes of this concept:

Perichoresis refers to the reciprocal interiority of the trinitarian persons. In every divine person as a subject, the other persons also indwell; all mutually permeate one another, though in doing so they do not cease to be distinct persons. In fact, the distinctions between them are precisely the presupposition of that interiority, since persons who have dissolved into one another cannot exist in one another. Perichoresis is ‘co-inherence in one another without any coalescence or commixture.’ (After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity, pp. 209).

It’s hard to define as you can see. But think of the implications of this concept in our lives if we truly believe we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).

I think it’s so hard to define and see because we haven’t done the personal work to enter into those spaces with others. Or we perhaps “pollute” that space with things as clinical psychologist Hedy Schleifer points out in this wonderful TED presentation, The Power of Connection.

This video is worth your 20 minutes as she talks about how to encounter the “other” in that “sacred space.”

“Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. ”
? Rainer Maria Rilke

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Rhett Smith
I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (MDiv, MSMFT, LMFT-A) and pastor to youth and families. I write about the relationships between psychology, theology and technology.