Introduction to Sanctuary

Introduction to Sanctuary

“It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” Irish proverb

Sanctuary is a place of safety and care. It is protection from danger, a shelter for the injured, a holy place where life is tended to with care. Like its close cousin refuge, sanctuary speaks to the universal longing for a space to retreat from the dangers and depletions of the world. One thinks of the family ties and friendships that protect, restore and heal us.  The sanctuary movement and its refuge for immigrants is another powerful example of offering life-giving safe space. Wildlife preserves protect animals from the worst of humanity. Even those with negative associations with the term sanctuary, feel the desire for safety from the storms of life.  The hunger for protection and the call to protect each other is central to this month.

But as we dig deeper, we are reminded that the sanctuaries in our lives do more than simply protect us. They provide the breathing space for restoration so that we can return to life renewed.  We all need people and periods of sanctuary in our lives.  It might be Sunday morning in service, a sanctuary of music and community.  It might be the comfort of your bedroom, a time to let go of worries and rest in the arms of a loved one.  For some it is a new country, which allows you precious peace to heal from war at home.

Along the way, we also discover that our sanctuaries need sheltering and protection themselves. It’s a paradox: our sanctuaries can’t protect and repair us unless we also protect and repair them. The green sanctuary movement is a great example of this. Humans find sanctuary in kinship with all the living beings with which we share the planet, from forests to the cat purring on our laps, but this web of life desperately needs protection itself.  We need to protect and care for our sanctuaries so that they may care for us.

This month, consider where you find sanctuary, and what you might do to care for that sanctuary.



As always, we are grateful to be a member of Soul Matters, a Unitarian Universalist organization, for the resources for our yearly themes.


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