Space that Speaks
written by Rev Gary Heard

There had been a slow but certain transformation in the Chaplain’s Centre at Kilvington over recent weeks as junk was removed and desks and shelves were tidied. It started to look like a place that was cared for. Then on Wednesday I decided to move some furniture around. By moving a magazine display shelf and a desk, a remarkable transformation occurred. Students and staff would look in the door and begin conversation. Working at my desk I could now make eye contact with a person who looked in the door. Conversations now flowed readily.

When you get to the last part of the book of Ezekiel, you find a detailed description of the new temple to be built, down to the placement of furniture. A similar description is found for the first temple in the Pentateuch. The detail recorded is stunning.

The Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui is based around the notion that the way in which furniture is placed conveys meaning. Although ascribed to the idea of luck and fortune, the principles ascribed are all to do with relationship.

How many of us remember what it was like to stand in the Principal’s office at school, and peer over his desk?

Walk into parliament, and one confronts an awesome sense of grandeur and history.

Remember the table settings at home growing up?

What does it feel like in the waiting room of a dental surgery? None of us are fooled by those casual goldfish swimming around – we know they are not going to be jabbed with a needle, have their mouths filled with metallic instruments, and then be asked what their day was like.

Space conveys meaning. The way in which furniture is arranged, as much as what is or is not displayed, tells something of a story. The furniture conveys to every visitor a sense of what is important to the occupier, and tells a little of their story.

The Bible also talks of the people of God as being part of “His building”. Not only do we tell a story with the architecture and furniture, but we also tell a story with our lives. What story are we telling?

September 15, 2002
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