Be Still: A Collaborative Worship Experience

Photos Courtesy of Emily Gigoux

The above is a photo of myself in the most recent and possibly most important space I have ever designed. For my final project in Art and Design, I decided to integrate my faith into my design practice by tracing down my roots a bit and recreating something familiar from my past.

Photos Courtesy of Emily Gigoux

Rewind to a much younger me at church camp, in lets say, 2006. Insecure, hurting from my parents’ divorce, and looking for something to deem me as valuable in almost every empty thing, I was having a hard time feeling secure and finding rest. The church camp that I attended was very intentional about the importance of non-traditional acts of worship and expressing that importance to its campers. I remember one day at that camp, I was wondering around, feeling a bit down because none of the boys at church camp seemed to be interested in me (Weren’t boys supposed to still be “gross” at that age?) and I was really insecure, constantly comparing myself to others and seeking approval. Alone, I walked into the sanctuary at the camp and saw a sign posted on a nearby door. It read “Holy of Holies: All are Welcome”. Intrigued, I opened the door.

When I stepped inside, the space was decorated in a way that promoted peace, the sun was shinning in the room, there were white curtains and soft places to sit, and I was surrounded by so many stories. There were beautiful stories of worship and beautiful stories of victory, wonderful prayers seeking redemption and deliverance from pain, and so much art that expressed each intricate and unique longing through the lives, eyes, and hearts of God’s people.

Photos Courtesy of Emily Gigoux

While surrounded by pieces and parts stemming from the vulnerabilities of what it meant to be human, I realized that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only person feeling unworthy, unwanted, or lost. I spent time there that day knowing that God meets our needs in ways that we don’t even ask for and in ways that we don’t expect. Little did I also know that that experience would influence me to pursue Art and Design later in life at George Fox University.

Holding that experience so dear to me throughout the years, it was only natural for me to recreate my version of the “Holy of Holies” for those on campus.

So, that is what I did.

I reached out to a local living area on campus and then began creating the worship space shortly after (SHOUT OUT TO ANDREA ROBERTS, KIRSTI DOOLIN, AMY SHIFTLY, AND DEANNA ZERKEL FOR HELPING ME IMPLEMENT!). Out of the actual implementation of the space, I also hosted an event titled: Be Still: A Collaborative Worship Experience to launch my design. There, I shared with a small group of folks my vision for the project, that being: to emphasize the value of collaboration and the importance that comes with being vulnerable with others regarding our experiences and opinions. I also asked them where they saw beauty and what they considered “beautiful”. This was in order to continue the beauty debate discussion we were having in class. In addition to the prior question on beauty, I also asked them to share an identity statement as I think it is important for us to claim truths over ourselves.

Photos Courtesy of Emily Gigoux

At the end of the evening, the space began to fill with the same types of stories that healed my young heart and camp, which brought me so much joy. The space also held small, rolled up notes of encouragement that I wrote, ready to be taken and received by whoever needed them.

Photos Courtesy of Emily Gigoux

There is so much I could go on about regarding this project and how it has shaped the way I view myself as a designer. Reflecting back on my prior interior design projects, I have come to the conclusion that all this time I have been designing in order to encourage the creation of valuable/ impactful experiences between/for people, and that is my ministry.

Photos Courtesy of Emily Gigoux

Other experiences I have had lately give me reason to believe that when we open up parts of ourselves that hurt, God uses His power to heal both us and others. My hope is that, because of this room and the stories that it held, people found the healing and rest that they needed to make it through whatever season they were in.

Photos Courtesy of Emily Gigoux

Below are some quotes that I want to share from what was written/ reflected on in the space:

“Beauty is in places like this, where they are quiet enough that your prayer is heard. We strive for moments of peace in a chaotic world. We are beginning to  fear the stillness. Now we must learn, with child-like abandon, to feel free in spaces like these. Let whispered prayers be free and heal from the inside out.” 

“To the God I love, For every heart and every head, for every heartbreak and every heart mended, thank you for the experience of life.”

“I want to pray for everyone. Sometimes I feel like there is so much hardship it feels like we won’t be able to overcome it BUT we must trust that through God we can do all. I want to pray for trust and perseverance.” 

“I have given up and I need strength to push through.”

Photos Courtesy of Emily Gigoux

-Erika Muir