Mar 202019

Sanctuary — a place of peace and safety. Deeply valued by most. It is a holy place, whether in a house of worship or another locale. Homes can provide sanctuary as can prayer, meditation, relationships, and books.

I’ve spent many years wading through ‘spirituality’ vs. ‘religion.’ When I was in practice, twelve-step recovery programs were about the only option for affordable, long-term support for my clients. Because of that, they often needed a sounding board to help sort through personal histories and arrive at a concept of a higher power that worked for them. Some were comfortable with their existing religious definitions but many felt far too angry, guilty, or ashamed to even want to think about their religious upbringing. I am someone who gave witness to a great number of priest abuse stories long before that scandal arrived in the headlines.

Many felt far too angry, guilty, or ashamed to even want to think about their religious upbringing Click To Tweet

Two ideas worked for many of my addicted clients. First was that many of their shameful behaviors were a direct result of rational thought being warped or eliminated by the use of alcohol or other drugs and that ongoing recovery was an important way to atone. The second was that they didn’t need to worry about finding an “official” god —  that groups of people who had felt the same way and achieved recovery wanted nothing more than to provide them the power needed to recover. For hope-filled and fearful folk leaving the safety of inpatient treatment, those groups became a form of sanctuary. Perhaps it is in the form of feeling immunity from the remorse and self-loathing that don’t immediately disappear.

I no longer participate in organized religion but the idea of sanctuary remains deeply rooted. So is some sort of faith that the world is a fundamentally good place. And a belief that everyone deserves a place of peace and safety: even those Canada geese who were targeted for death.

I’m not someone who can sit with overwhelming emotion. However insignificant it may be, I need to take action. So after consulting with Favorite Husband, I decided to give the geese a place to go. Our place, with the high grass, at the edge of the pond. But how would we attract them at a time their trust in humans was justifiably non-existant?

Favorite Husband and I decided to give the geese a place to go. Our place, with the high grass, at the edge of the pond. Click To Tweet

Thinking about various grandmothers and homes that had provided personal refuge the answer became clear. We needed to find a way to feed them and that meant learning about their favorite foods.

Do you have a person, place, or practice of sanctuary? What makes it feel safe? What draws you to return?








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  13 Responses to “Seeds of Sanctuary”

  1. I love the idea of sanctuary and seek to be a sanctuary for myself and other people through the practice of relational mindfulness. I find nature a powerful sanctuary, as is my home, my yoga mat, and my mediation cushion. I love to find sanctuary in my buddhist sangha, my Unitarian Universalist fellowship, and with my beloved family and friends. I am committed to cultivating more places of sanctuary where people can feel safe, connected, loved, and able to express their authentic selves. Thank you for this lovely post and for all the work you have done creating sanctuaries of healing.

  2. It is my fantasy to have an animal sanctuary, my home has always been one, to as many as I can have.

  3. My sanctuary is the beach, it is where I feel free and so much unfolds. i have positive experiences around religion and Des says( who BTW still follows his catholic faith, that i am very eclectic with religion- like tonight off to a full moon ceremony celebrating life overlooking the beach xxx

  4. For me, nature is my religion.

  5. After years of disappointments from organized religions, I am blessed to have found a wonderful church whose motto is: “Open hearts, open minds, open doors,” and they mean it. No one is turned away, everyone is welcome, and whatever your need is, they will help. The moment I walk through those doors, I feel safe and loved.

    • That’s wonderful, Barb. Right now, I’m connected with a number of wonderful clergy members who share such accepting sentiments online. It’s something to be hopeful about, for sure.

  6. I enjoy reading and writing the word SANCTUARY…and you tenderly describe so many of its facets, Andrea. I find sanctuary in silence…a long hug…my morning writing practice…and at the beach.
    Right now my home doesn’t feel this inviting, s oothing way. It’s Day 2 of the Roofers and an undetermined time until they leave. I’m trying to focus on gratitude that this roof will provide sanactuary in the futue FL storms and hurricanes.
    Meanwhile, maybe I could come hang out on the edge with the geese? My favorite food is anything anyone ever cooks me .

  7. Not really a place of sanctuary but when I was younger, my sanctuary comprised of my parents, who I knew would embrace me with love and without judgement and help me find my bearings if I was feeling down.

  8. My main place of sanctuary is my home and my back yard. I have everything in it to make me feel good mind, body, spirit and soul. I love to sit out in my yard and connect with nature. I live close to a historic park. Outside of my home, that is where I love to go and explore. I can walk to the old mill pond where there is a waterfall and where many geese gather. I love the quietness of it and it does feel like a sanctuary.

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