Creating  and holding a Safe, Secret, and Sacred Space for a peacemaking and peacebuilding Conversation Between and Among People, and with God

by admin on June 28, 2018

Creating  and holding a Safe, Secret, and Sacred Space: for a peacemaking and peacebuikding Conversation Between and Among People, and with God: from Luke24:13-35

By Fidele Lumeya and Leah Renee

My work has been and still is around conflict, justice and peace.

I have observed how easily people can destroy life and how complicated it is to rebuild life. How easy it is for people to break the relationship and how complicated and difficult it is to rebuild the relationship.

In Congo, my country of origin; Rwanda; Burundi; Angola; Darfur, in North Sudan; Rumbek in South Sudan; Liberia; Guatemala; Honduras; and in Nicaragua as well as in the US I have witnessed conflict that has taken individual or community lives. Conflict has destroyed relationships to the point that today nobody feels safe to live there. Life in some of the above mentioned countries is no longer consider sacred, and suspicion has taken over to the point that those willing to have àn inter-person or inter-group conversation prefer to do so only in secret or if their safety is guaranteed.

I can relate to Luke’s story as he is recounting it. It was easy for the faith leaders in Jerusalem to destroy the Messianic hope of salvation that Jesus’s followers had in Jesus. With one word: “crucify”. Jesus was killed. The hope was destroyed! It was a very public event. After the crucifixion the disciples were more concerned with their safety to the point that meeting each other was done in secret.

The resurrection of Jesus was not à public event. God considered the safety of all people, even the guards, whom he put them to sleep. The appearance of Jesus Christ was done in secret. He appeared only to the few chosen disciples, no longer to the masses as He had done for thirty-three years.

He met the disciples where they were in their faith journey. For some it was about physical location as Jesus appeared in their houses, at their workplace (as in the case of Thomas and Peter while they were fishing), and during travel. For others it was about their emotional state as many of the disciples were in despair.  When the resurrected Jesus appeared and walked with Cleopas and his fellow traveler on the road returning to Emmaus they were downcast and disillusioned and filled with disbelief of the events witnessed in Jerusalem. Jesus enquired as to what the two men were discussing. After listening to their story Jesus reminded them of all that had been taught through the scriptures, and of the events they had themselves witnessed. In his admonition, He created an atmosphere of safety and hope of things yet to come.

The resurrected Jesus created safe, and sacred spaces by opening the secret places to the minds and hearts of those who would believe. He first opened the heart of the travelers through the mystery of the scriptures by tying the things foretold with the current happenings—their hearts were burning. Jesus then opened mind of the travelers through the familiarity of relationship—the breaking of the bread. When their eyes were finally opened and they saw Jesus they were open to action–they quickly returned to Jerusalem. Lastly, the truth of the sacred secrets opened the mouths of the disciples to proclaim all that they had been told.

As followers of Jesus Christ we have to consider these 3 S’s: Safety, Secrecy and the Sacred when we want to be peacemakers. The elders, through storytelling, remind the group-in-conflict of their common past. Their history is opened to them. Relationship is restored with sharing of food, and in fellowship. Those present in the process then go out to share with the others all that has been witnessed and agreed upon in the sacred space of reconciliation.

Leah will tell us more about how in her profession is creating à safe environment, keeping secret the conversation, and considering the moment to be sacred. The result being a restoration of the conversation among people, between people, and with God.

Holding a Safe, Secret, and Sacred Space

Fidele’s work has been on a macro level primarily with large groups and communities. My work is usually with individuals, or Teams of professionals who are seeking to help an individual who has suffered trauma.  

The work often requires that I take the role of facilitator, coach, and guide. By offering gentle, nonjudgmental support and guidance, I try to help others walk through some of the most difficult journeys of our lives. Many refer to the process as “holding space”.

“Holding space” means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

In Luke 24:13-35 we find two people who have recently experienced the violent crucifixions of their friend, teacher, person of hope. Their response was a typical response to trauma—flight. They were leaving the city.

Jesus used a similar model for the two travelers on the road.

  • The two travelers were going in the wrong direction
    • They were heading away from Jerusalem
      • Away from the safety of their fellow believers
      • Away from their supporters—their fellow disciples
      • Away from the fellowship of other believers
      • Away from any news or updates concerning the news brought by the women
    • The two were relying only on each other
      • They had removed themselves from the conversation and support of the larger group of believers
      • Their information was limited
  • Jesus joined them
    • He “walked along with them (vs 15)”. He did not take the lead.
    • He asked simple questions
      • “What are you discussing”
      • “What things”
    • Jesus knew the answers but he allowed the time and space for the travelers to recount their concerns and their story—He created a scared space
    • vs 25 “How foolish you are” is not something I would say to a person for whom I’m holding space. The larger point is that Jesus reminded them of what they knew. He was very familiar with the belief system of these two travelers.
      • He used their belief system to create a hedge of safety for them
      • In holding space for others it is important to know the basic belief system of the person.
        • Our beliefs usually hold our hope—possibility for a better future
    • Vs 28 When they approached their destination Jesus “acted as if he were going further”—departing from them.
      • In the practice of “holding space” it is important to avoid overwhelming the person
        • Jesus had guided them to a place of hope through the use of their own belief system. Now he was willing to let them with that—give them space to contemplate all that was said
        • “Space Holders” give the person a graceful way to end the time together
    • Vs 29 “But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us’”.
      • It was the travelers’ decision to continue
      • As “space holders” we allow the person to determine how much time they need
    • Vs 30-31 Jesus continued with them. Eating—an expression of nourishment
      • Jesus presence
        • Nourishing our mind, body, soul
      • Their eyes were opened
        • They recognized the hope among them
        • They came to the knowledge on their own terms
        • No force or dramatic event here—just presence
      • And He disappeared from their sight
        • His job with them was complete
        • The spirit of his work would remain
      • Holding space often requires gentle guiding—bringing the traveler to a place where they come to answers on their own
        • Few words
        • Simple presence
        • Then the need for physical presence of the holder is gone
    • Vs 33-34 The travelers returned to Jerusalem immediately
      • They found their fellow believers—their support group
      • They shared their experience
      • They reinforced and strengthened their group with all they had learned
      • They brought nourishment through hope


To truly support people in their own growth and transformation we must avoid taking their power away–trying to fix their problems; shaming them; or overwhelming them–giving them more information than they’re ready for. We have to be prepared to step to the side so that they can make their own choices, offer them unconditional love and support, give gentle guidance when it’s needed, and make them feel safe even when they make mistakes. In doing this we truly create a safe, secret, and sacred space for conversation between and among us, and with God.


Even the strongest leaders, coaches, nurses, etc., need to know that there are some people with whom they can be vulnerable and weak without fear of being judged. The body of believers has to be each other “space holders”. Through their unconditional love, gentle guidance, and nonjudgmental support they heal, and so to hold space for others in return.


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