I often refer to Studio 145, the performing space housed at Intersections International, as a sacred space. Its prestige is tied to religion, but not one particular religion. It’s a space where reverence is expected for all people, with respect for their spiritual beliefs. I believe that universal kind of reverence is foundational for meaningful and productive collaboration, artistically and otherwise.
So how does a space like this receive its sacred blessing—its baptism, if you will?
On March 23rd, Intersections held a Sacred Space Inauguration—a gathering of friends, family and colleagues—where blessings and prayers were offered, readings, music, and dance were received, and human diversity was celebrated. My two sons were with me, and my older son, Victor looked around curiously the same way he does whenever I bring him to church. As the event was about to begin, he started to cough and whispered to me, “Why are they burning incense?” I responded, “That's not incense, that's sage.”
The sage belonged to Chief Dwayne Perry of the Ramapough Luunape indigenous people, who led the proceedings. It is of utmost importance to honor and call upon the voices of America’s First Nation people, who have had a uniquely troubling history in this country and yet persevere as forefathers of this land. In fact, this event was directly preceded by an educational lecture by Dr. Crystal Lee of the Navajo Nation, in which she spoke to much of the historical context of oppression of indigenous people. It was fitting that Chief Perry started off the evening with his sage smoke, which covered the guests and filled the air.
It was also fitting that the event featured presenters and readings from different faiths, including Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Sikh. I myself read a passage from the New Testament, as well as some Sikh text. Particularly remarkable to me was that there was also space for those who did not identify with any of these faiths to connect with the room and be acknowledged. This is what we strive for with everyone who walks through our doors, a feeling of being honored and connected. That is what I mean when I refer to our space as sacred, and I'm pleased to be part of an organization that recognizes the importance of that, especially with my kids watching.