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Daily Dose (May 21 – 24)


A sanctuary is a place that restores us. Renews us. Refreshes us. And reminds us of what is really important. A sanctuary allows us to hear the music which reminds us that we are enough, and that we are owned by God’s bounty and abundance of grace and rest.
This is necessary, because we don’t easy believe, or embrace, that gift of grace and rest.

It is not surprising that when we’re tangled by insecurity (you know, when we are playing the right notes and not hearing the music), we find comfort in labels. It gives us a feeling of control. Forgetting that whatever we label, we dismiss. (Including our own capacity for caring, giving, rebuilding, and spilling light.)
So, it takes courage, when I choose to remove a label; from someone else… or from myself.
Because here’s the deal: “The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you. A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it.” (Vik Muniz)
That is the way labels work, isn’t it?
They distance us.  They marginalize. Whether it is something I don’t understand or don’t like or can’t see.
This is the perfect definition of bunkum. The stuff that fatigues the healing gift of sanctuary. So. Whether it is the bunkum in someone else, or the bunkum in me.
Eve Ensler writes in Insecure at Last, about working with a group of women at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. She knew these women would be tough, difficult. And that every single one was there because of a mistake. And it occurred to her that we have frozen each woman in her mistake. Marked her forever and held her captive.
“Mistakes do not have faces of feelings or histories of futures. They are bad. Mistakes. We must forget them, put them away. Then I came to Bedford.  Slowly I began to meet the mistakes, one by one. They had soft, delicate voices, strong hands, beautiful faces, feisty spirits, outrageous laughs. These mistakes were mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews–they had fantasies and toothaches and bad moods and funky T-shirts. There was the mistake, and the woman.”
It’s so easy to fuel the fire of misunderstanding and intolerance and small-mindedness when I witness all of this (my world) through the lens of my own labels.
I do know that when we label, we tend to exclude, rather than include. Including our own worth and well-being. This I know: Sanctuary reminds me that I’m more than my “label”.
Sanctuary is not about where (as if it is only some magical place we retreat to). Sanctuary is about what happens. In other words, sanctuary is already within us. Which means that wherever we go, we can take sanctuary with us, which gives us the permission and courage to embrace abundant life and wholeheartedness, even in the middle of the storms, or the undone, or the complicated, or the prickly, or the unplanned.


A sanctuary is a place that restores us. Renews us. Refreshes us. And reminds us of what is really important. A sanctuary reminds us that we are enough, and that we are owned by God’s bounty and abundance of grace and rest.
Which brings me to this life-giving story Dewitt Jones tells about visiting Marion Campbell, considered the finest weaver in all of Scotland. She lived in the Outer Hebrides. Jones visited to photograph Marion for The National Geographic. When she answered the door, she seemed surprised (no wonder considering that the Hebrides are a remote island chain, the whole string of 65 islands with fewer than 27,000 inhabitants. I expect she didn’t see a stranger very often.) Marion told Dewitt, “I’m sorry, but now I am taking care of my brother who is sick and near death.” Dewitt felt an understandable embarrassment.
“No wait,” she told him, “give me an hour. I’ll join you then.”
After the hour, he found her at the loom. She talked about her creations, and stories about scraping lichen from rocks for dye. Dewitt took a few photos. Still nervous that he had interrupted Marion, he started to leave. “Oh no,” she told him. She escorted him into her dining room where she had put out biscuits and tea. Dewitt wondered if he was in the presence of a great sage, and waited for pearls of wisdom. “What do you think about when you weave?” he asked.
“I wonder if I’ll run out of thread,” she answered.
She must have seen the puzzlement on his face, and added, “When I weave, I weave.”
There it is.
When I read, I read.
When I celebrate, I celebrate.
When I pay attention, I pay attention.
The healing power of sanctuary, to be at home in our own skin.

Sanctuary is not a doctoral program, or even a test to pass. And if you’re looking for something like that, you will be disappointed. And sanctuary is not a place where we ponder questions such as, “What if this life of mine is the wrong life?” It’s a place, not of judgement, but of acceptance.
Have I done bone-headed things with my life? To be sure.
Have I miscalculated and misused talent or opportunity? Assuredly.
Have I wrestled with depression and the weight of life gone awry? Yes, I have. Does it benefit me to wish that I were elsewhere and otherwise? I don’t think so.
What I know for certain is that starting down that path of determining “right or wrong” life, assures the fact that we will avoid (and definitely miss) this life.
Honoring sanctuary allows me to dwell in this life, as it is.
And to find permission and courage to embrace this life—wholeheartedly—even in the middle of the storms, or the undone, or the complicated, or the prickly.


A sanctuary is a place that restores us. Renews us. Refreshes us. And reminds us of what is really important. A sanctuary reminds us that we are enough, and that we are owned by God’s bounty and abundance of grace and rest. And sanctuary is in our DNA. It is the way we are wired.

Let’s begin here. Every sanctuary has a portal, which is a demarcation, an entrance. Portals take you elsewhere—even if only in your mind—and going elsewhere allows you to leave something behind. The invitation to be embraced by your sanctuary.
Remember story time when you were a child? You would settle in, and then the mood would change. As adults, the portal might be physical, such as a gate, archway or doorway. Or, a specific area (bench or chair), music or chimes, maybe passing by the big oak tree on your walk, a prayer, a mantra or a breathing exercise.

Gratefully, my teacher about portals is Betty.
Betty is a character. A member of a writing group I enjoyed hanging out with some years ago. Betty was inimitable and full of spunk and verve. She had raised her children on a fishing boat in Alaska. She was the age where it’s not helpful to guess or ask. (But I’m guessing a good bit north of 80.) Now living in West Seattle, she invited me to visit her garden, a small lot behind her home. She wanted to show me her sanctuary.
“Come here,” she said, and we walked down the back steps, “I gotta show you something.”
“Yes Ma’am,” I said smiling.
You know how when you create a garden, you begin with a path that is at least three feet in width. And over time, as plants encroach, the path narrows. Betty’s was wide enough for us to put one foot in front of the other. Literally. And each side of the pathway is lined with large pots, filled with plants spilling. As a garden designer, my mind is spinning, and I’m thinking, “I can fix this! I can help Betty.”
We get to the back of her lot. Around the corner at the edge of her garage, an old wicker chair. “This is it,” she tells me. “It’s my ‘when the world pisses me off chair.’”
I’m still grinning big, and I’m thinking, now that is a great name. “Whenever I need time to regroup and be refilled, I come sit in my chair,” she tells me.
And I’m thinking, ‘I get it. But why is it back here in the corner?’ And then it occurs to me, surrounding the chair, a garage wall and the neighbor’s tall fence covered with climbing flowers. Betty’s sanctuary. Yes.
So. We’re walking back toward the house. And I’m about to give her advice that will improve her garden. She’ll be sooo grateful. And she asks, “Did you notice the plants along the pathway?” I bite my tongue.
“I hope so,” she continues. “They’re all my favorite herbs. By the time I get to my chair, my blue jeans are covered with the fragrance of all the herbs.” Yes. The portal, the invitation, the draw. And I smile from ear to ear every time I think of my afternoon with Betty.
It does my heart good. She gave me the permission to find my portal, and to embrace my sanctuary, as a place to savor, with the permission to be here now.


Sanctuary is the space and place—yes, the sacred place—where we are replenished and restored. Sanctuary is in our DNA. It is the way we are wired.
Where are your sanctuaries?
No worries if you can’t name them.
We’ll get there. In the meantime, it helps to remember that we do not go there merely to fulfill an obligation. Or, just to be a good person. Or, to impress people we know.
We go there because if we don’t go, we lose a part of our soul.

I used to think I had to go somewhere special—exotic maybe. Or maybe, I just wanted a change of scenery, you know, the wave of a magic wand, making all the bunkum in my life go away.
And I confess that I still am mesmerized by the bucket-list books, and the ten thousand places I need to go before I die. I guess I assumed that I could enjoy sanctuary only with the change of scenery, as if sanctuary couldn’t happen in my real world.

I remember a wonderful conversation with Luanne, a patient in hospice at a local senior center.
At age ninety-three, she still carried herself with dignity and pose, even if the facts of the day were sometimes muddled and jumbled. “It’s my teatime,” she tells me.
“Excuse me?” I ask.
“Oh,” she says, “I have a special teatime. I can sit up for about thirty minutes, so I have the nurse help me to the chair by the window, where I sip my tea.”
She is smiling, and I know that even in this room surrounded by medical equipment (even in a world where uncertainty or danger can be right round the corner), sanctuary can be found. And sanctuary is real. And is healing and restorative.
I think through my own day. Sometimes my mind just goes blank. I want to choose and find sanctuary, but then I wonder whether I’m doing it correctly. This is for certain: I can tell the days I don’t have “my teatime”.
So. It can help if we ask ourselves a simple question: What is saving—healing, replenishing, restoring—me today?

Prayer for our week…
A Prayer for Reconciliation
Where there is separation,
there is pain.
And where there is pain,
there is story.
And where there is story,
there is understanding,
and misunderstanding,
and not listening.
May we—separated peoples, estranged strangers,
unfriended families, divided communities—
turn toward each other,
and turn toward our stories,
with understanding
and listening,
with argument and acceptance,
with challenge, change
and consolation.
Because if God is to be found,
God will be found
in the space
Pádraig Ó Tuama

Photo… “Terry, The roses are beautiful here in our rose garden in Belmont, NC. Thought you might want to share it with others. Love getting your Sabbath Moments every day! Blessings on all you do,” Mary Louise Yurik, RSM… Thank you Sister Mary… And I’m so grateful for your photos, please send them to [email protected]

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