In an article in The New York Times by Andrew Keh, we read about the meditation room recently opened in the Barclays Center, a Brooklyn sports arena where the Nets play. Very few fans know it even exists and those interviewed about it are baffled about its purpose. Bruce Ratner, the developer of the arena, said of the space at its dedication ceremony: "Among this busyness and this craziness, you do need some time that you come and just relax and see words like 'love,' 'rejoice,' 'forgive,' and remember why we're here." He was referring to the inspiration quotations on the walls. The space is about the size of a living room and seats 40 people on chairs.
When I was a young Lutheran pastor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I helped out a minister whose Village Church was a storefront downtown next to a popular bar and across the plaza from a large apartment complex. The challenge was how to lure people into this sacred space. A friend and I created a 4' x 8' light box with little squares that blinked. It attracted a lot of attention to the church. I realized then and there that congregations need to create a variety of places in urban spaces that serve the yearning we all have for silence and solitude.