Space. I see that interior decorators are all the rage now. The cynic in me sees that all of these homes that have been “staged” look pretty much the same. What is advertised as a reflection of the unique personality of the owner often looks more like a Home Sense showroom. If I close my eyes I can describe to you the interior of one of these homes, the “personal touches” more universal than the owner or the decorator is willing to admit. It’s amazing to me that we flatter ourselves with our unique tastes when in reality the design is as common to a Boston suburb as it is to an Edmonton suburb as it is to an Atlanta suburb.
And yet every once and a while there is a space that is designed in a truly unique way that leaves a lasting impression. Two examples come to mind. At a church where I preached on their anniversary a few years ago I was given an extensive tour. The church had recently raised a lot of money to renovate its space. It was an old church that wanted to bring a new look to its space. I loved the openness of the space, all of the sun light, the bright colours, the mood lifted as soon as I walked into the building. But one thing caught my eye that seemed “different”. Someone had done her/his homework, in each room, on the wall was an item of historical significance to the church. For instance one room included a very old framed wording the United Church Women’s purpose. The hanging had been restored and my eyes were drawn to the missional message that remind any visitor of what these women had stood for all these years. I thought it was genius to include in a newly renovated space.
And it was like that in every room in this church, a clean, open and attractive space with all of the features of modern accessibility and functionality but with at least one large historical piece to remind you of the church’s identity and focus. I thought it a most appropriate way to invest the space with a new look and iconic images that would both give the visitor a sense of hope and possibility and a sense of continuity and purpose.
The other space where I was moved to consider something new and something of mission was the Detroit airport. On a trip to Washington we were rerouted to Detroit. I had to get off the plane, change terminals, and board another plane for DC. I was in a rush and had no idea what I was in for as I walked along the passage way between the terminals. All of a sudden there were mood lights, colours dancing on the walls and ceiling, melodic music transporting me to consider how I was being inspired.
Everything about the experience was new and strange and somehow exotic. But then it came to me that this was the motor city, the place where Motown got its start and a city that had gone through a long and difficult fallow period was retaining and reminding others of its spirit of innovation. How clever!
Space is more than a vessel to store our things or to mimic a showroom or a reality TV series. At its best space opens us to the new and reminds us of the sacred past, pointing us to a mission and inspiring us to get there in a new way.