My Altar

As soon as I moved into what is my current home, I designated this shelf on my wall as my prayer altar. The shelf is made from some sort of scrap wood and was already on the wall. The purpose of my altar is not for sacrifice or ritual, but is rather an external representation of my inner altar, of things, people, and ideas that are important to me. The items are, in close to clockwise fashion, beginning at 11 o’clock:

  • A painting I did of a river in Old Stone Fort state park where I spent camping trips with my family, with a Wendell Berry poem (“Breathing is Prayer”)
  • A St. Francis rosary, who is my patron saint 
  • A painting I did of the hymn “What Wondrous Love is This”
  • A singing box from my grandmother, which has a bird dancing in her cage to the very old tune “Love Story”
  • A postcard from the Open Door Community, highlighting Eucharist and “Be Not Afraid” scriptures, art by my friend and mentor Nelia Kimbrough
  • A family photo of one of my friends on Tennessee’s death row, Kennath Henderson
  • A cross made of gnarled vine, made by my formerly homeless friend Papa Smurf 
  • An Amnesty International candle given to me by my friend and mentor Beth Richardson
  • An icon of Julian of Norwich with her cat, also given to me by Beth
  • A painting I did of Dorothy Day
  • An ornate incense burner 
  • A photo of a gathering of people who showed up to advocate for my friend on death row, Abu Ali Abdur Rahman
  • A small candle with a red ribbon on it for HIV/AIDS saints and survivors
  • Another cross from Papa Smurf
  • Another postcard from the Open Door Community of Isaiah 55:1-2, art by Nelia Kimbrough
  • A sage stick
  • A wood percussive instrument that sounds like rain

Do any of you have similar altars? Please send pictures or descriptions in the comments below. I love reading about the ordinary holy spaces of our lives. 


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