Sacred Spaces: Molly Long

In “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” Annie Dillard writes, “Self-consciousness, however, does hinder the experience of the present. It is the one instrument that unplugs all the rest.” 

She goes on to write that it is our very self-consciousness that separates us from each other, from God, from our self. It keeps us from living in the present moment and living unfiltered experience.

These photos are an homage to the spaces where our souls feel free, the places where we can still ourselves and simply be. They are places where we can put down our hard work and feel at one with ourselves in each moment. Places where deeply meaningful things have happened in our lives and where deeply meaningful people have come into our lives. They are spaces absent of self-consciousness. They are meaningful. They are sacred.

Here, five women from Southeast Missouri share their places of sacredness. Let’s allow beauty to help us realize the sacredness of the spaces we inhabit, and the sacredness of our very selves.


Molly Long

My grandpa’s barn and the house my great-grandpa, grandpa and grandma grew up in, in Cape Girardeau County

Growing up, it always felt like time stopped when I went to my grandparents’ house. As a child, my brother and I would run around the yard, play card games like Old Maid, try on Grandma’s jewelry and laugh until we cried trying to fall asleep! Every once in a while, my brother Mason and I got to join my dad and grandpa at the farm for some “hard work.” We would jump on the hay bales, chase the cats, sit on the tractors, climb secret staircases and give the cows names as we helped move them into a new field. 

My grandpa’s farm has been in the family since before 1880, making me at least the sixth generation. We have documents of people in my family line that crossed the Mississippi River from Ste. Genevieve on January 1, 1800, on two feet of ice. As I grew older, I began to understand how long that has been how long my family has been in this area, and how much life and love has been shared there as family. 

I have been so blessed to see God throughout my family and particularly through my grandparents and their relationship as husband and wife. Now as an adult, I have shared so many new memories with my grandparents at their same house, such as listening to their life advice, watching the eclipse of 2017 and brushing through my grandma’s hair. Within the past two years, my grandma has made mention she’d like to visit her childhood home. With no roads leading to her home and her family farm, my dad built a road so we could drive out there with Grandma. Through this in one instant, modernity has been connected to the 1860s, which is as far as we can trace her family to that property. Life has moved and lives have adapted within my little family just as times have changed throughout our world. Hearing stories, seeing the landscape and imagining this all play out has helped me to gain a deep understanding of where I have come from and possibly even who I am at the core. 

Clothes: Leona’s Porch in Perryville, Missouri

Photos by Mia Pohlman