“Altars can be very powerful…We acknowledge an incarnate God who speaks through symbols and the things of our everyday lives…” -The Artist’s Rule, Christine Valters Paintner
An altar can be a centering, focal point for group or personal prayer or creativity. The altar placed in the center of our creative space during the Sprigs of Rosemary Advent Retreat held symbols of the season and the retreat—an advent wreath surrounded by fresh rosemary and a rosemary candle.
Throughout the retreat, more symbols were added. Each woman placed SoulCollage® cards they had made over the days as well as offering a single image that resonated with them that later I would create into a group card—something I’ve never done before. For the closing session, each woman lit their own rosemary candle from the larger candle and special blessings were shared.
Symbols and rituals create pathways in our hearts and minds, allowing us to carry meaningful experiences with us into our ordinary lives. Creating our group card was one such experience. With permission from the Beautiful Ones, a term of endearment coined by Sara—a dear friend and retreat participant—find reflections and I Am One Who Statements from some of our group.
Betty shared—“There was a bond formed within this retreat of Beautiful Ones that will keep us united eternally. Christ sat with us the entire time. I’m still at a loss to describe how this retreat touched and changed me. I only know since the card reading, I have learned more about myself and my relationship with God. Both have deepened to a level I have never experienced. I really can’t find words to express what is different—inner confidence I’ve lacked, acceptance of physical issues, but most of all a deepening in my trust of my Lord. My mantra, Jesus I trust in you is going to depths I never expected.
I am one who
…is a child of God who was beautifully created by him
…tries to carry on his love
…is plain but colorful
…silent but can be a gong
…needs aloneness but seeks nurturing of others
…prefers to follow, accepts leadership if not formally acknowledged
…seeks positivity, attempts to find God at work in negativity
…blessed with solid friendships based on love of Christian values
…desires to feed my soul but is always challenged by procrastination believes in God’s daily mini-miracles, does NOT believe in coincidences
…clings to my mantra Jesus I trust in you.”
Sara shared—”Being in sanctuary and sacred space with all of you brought about a shift in mindset and a determined strength to honor the Truth of our Sanctuary within me and then carry it into the world.
I am one who…
…is tied to the strength and beauty of the women before me
…is tied to the strength and beauty of women in my time
…contains the depth and fiery courage of the feminine
…passes the connection, strength, beauty, depth, and fiery courage of the feminine to the next generation
…carries peace and sanctuary within
…carries peace and sanctuary to the nations.”
Sandra shared—”I, too, have been holding the experience, and you all, in my heart. It felt like I was able to come to a full stop to be fully present with the experience, so it surprised me by being a moving and special time to gather to explore sanctuary together in a circle of friends. How beautiful! Thank you again for creating the opportunity to gather together, a sacred space for digging deeper and reflection.
I am one who:
…is reminded of beautiful experiences of togetherness.
…finds hope in a new beginning of each day.
…gathers in the quiet spaces of my mind.
…seeks sanctuary in the arms of a tree.
…nurtures my spirit and longs to unravel its mysteries.
…leans in, lingers, stays a little longer in peaceful moments.
…is traveling on a journey.
…strives to recognize the presence of Christ in all that I encounter.”
“A personal altar is a sacred space where we can re-center and reconnect with the Holy Presence dwelling in our midst–a place to honor the desires of lives with beauty. Altars help give voices to the longings bubbling up within us, long before we can put them into words.” -The Artist’s Rule, Christine Valters Paintner
Consider creating an altar as a prayerful corner of your home or the next time you practice creativity and prayer. Share your altar with us in the comments!
My first altar and how it came to be HERE. Photo below.