Sacredness Elsewhere

This summer I interned at Elsewhere on 606 South Elm Street, Greensboro, NC, 

The Elsewhere museum is not a Christian church. You don’t hear any blatant religious talk, you won’t find a sanctuary or a typical altar (though there is a confession booth!), and there is no organized worship. Yet there is a loving, open community of people, there are conversations of passions, struggles and personal beliefs. I find myself feeling more able and free to explore spirituality then I have in any faith community. And most importantly, I find myself surrounded by the sacred.

To walk into Elsewhere is to walk into a maze of old abandoned objects. In another life, the building was a thrift store that didn’t sell very much and so became full from top to bottom with what many people would refer to as junk. But instead of the “junk” being thrown out, artists were invited to come and transform it. So artists come and go, taking apart and reusing. Everything in the museum is constantly being transformed.

A strongly enforced rule at Elsewhere is that nothing leaves the museum and nothing comes in. Everything is sacred. When those of us in the Elsewhere community clean we have to be careful not to throw away a part of the collection. As long as something is not a health hazard it stays. Any paper, wood, broken glass, button, bead are kept, preserved and protected. Nothingleaves. Everything has potential – nothing is worthless.

I have learned that the trick of Elsewhere is to simply let yourself be in it. If you just walk through it you will see a bunch of overwhelming junk. But the longer you sit and take it all in, the more you see. You realize the intentionality of why something is in one place and not another. You start to appreciate an object for what it is. All the conversations, the laughter, the imagination of what the objects could be, are all apart of the creativity that Elsewhere embodies. It’s a sacred space… one of divine creativity and freedom. Anyone is welcome to come, to imagine, to create.

As I reflect, I find myself comparing the objects to people. Some are up high and unreachable to touch, others are in such a place that they get a lot of attention, and others you have to be more intentional about finding and appreciating. But no matter where it is or in what condition it is found in, it is worthy, useful and meaningful. Each is sacred. And there is a divine creator that rests amongst them and takes it all in – sees each individually as well as part of a whole. A creator that imagines the potential and transforms. A creator that recognizes the sacredness in all.

Leave a Reply