Many bloggers and columnists advocate people of the journey to choose a word for the year ahead, and this year, in the wake of so much upheaval all round, my word has become SANCTUARY–to find my sanctuary in the Holy One, to be sanctuary from the storm and to offer sanctuary to the vulnerable and unprotected. The word and the intention feel big, daunting, yet absolutely necessary, since so many in the world are so fragile, so at risk and have so few resources for unknown roads of 2017.
So it was with joy when yesterday morning I got a phone call from my daughter in between appointments, asking if she could come to hang out at my house for awhile; “I need shelter,” she said. I agreed to her coming with alacrity, and for a few moments between tasks, we gave each other sanctuary–from traffic, weather, anxious cares and heavy sorrow. As the day unfolded, I kept remembering that mini-moment of sanctuary. What does sanctuary offer? what does it bring?
I am musing on those questions this week, as all over the universe things quiver and shake. The conversations into which I am invited nearly always have a shade of anxiety about how the world is turning–an earthquake, a bombing, a rupture, a parade of resistance. I do not believe that being and acting as sanctuary stops any of those disruptions, but I see that having some sanctuary–a place where it is safe to be who one is, a place without agendas to be accomplished, a place where all is well for the moment–can be an agent of healing and restoration. It is no wonder that Jesus invited his beloved ones to “Come apart and rest for awhile,” in the midst of a challenging and hostile environment.
So this year I will be reflecting on how I live in sanctuary and provide sanctuary for others. I know some elements: warmth–physical and spiritual; shelter–from noise and from harassment; genuine welcome; and, I have come to believe, beauty. It is January, yet in my front yard white and purple irises continue to bloom. Other flowers pop up here and there. The gifts from the Advent and Christmas season bring illumination to new corners on the wall. New pictures of loved ones smile out at whomever is gathered. Familiar quilts and blankets, scented candles and delicious aromas make everyone feel at ease as they take respite here for the moment.
So I am living into claiming and being sanctuary while at the same time, I gather my resources that energize me to do justice in and for the places to which I am called; to love kindness and let it be the dominant tone of my words and actions; and to walk humbly with Holy One, learning what true sanctuary can mean for me and for the world. I have much to learn, but I am energized for the living of it!