We live in a world that depletes us.
And we need places to rest and renew and to live—to be refueled.
I do enjoy the film; A Star is Born. It’s the story of two people (Jackson and Ally) trying to find their way. Jackson, feeling at the mercy of life’s pressure “to perform”… to be somebody. His defensive (protective) stance affecting his relationships and his wellbeing. I feel it at my core when Ally sings,
“Tell me something, boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?”
Yes, we live in a world that depletes us.
And we need sanctuary places—to rest and renew—to be refueled. To be at home in our own skin.
Sanctuaries are those spaces, those places, in which, as Maya Angelou observed, “no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
In this space the focus is replenishment.
The focus is grounding, nourishment and renewal.
Tell me, where’s your sanctuary space?
And let us always remember this… sanctuary (replenishment) spills to those around us. We’re walking each other home. Thich Nhat Hanh talked about the power of deep, active listening and about how that can be a gift in any relationship. Sounds like sanctuary to me.
You know, right now, in our noisy (and distracting) world, it’s not easy to escape the screaming about political division, an impending recession, and impending doom. Instead of doing that, what if we offer a safe space to those we care about? Offer them a quiet space—one in which they feel seen, heard, and safe. Offer them a space in which they will feel connected, one which will give them hope that no matter the waves of the world, they will always be visible in the eyes of those who love them.
We are on this journey together my friends. And we can learn from Día de los Muertos (the first two days of November, what in our church we call All Saints and All Souls Day.)
Whereas Halloween is a night of mischief and scary stuff, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Yes, the theme is death, but to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don funky makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones. The rituals include an altar, or ofrenda, built in private homes and cemeteries. These aren’t altars for worshipping; rather, they’re meant to welcome spirits back to the realm of the living. As such, they’re loaded; with water to quench thirst after the long journey, favorite food, family photos, and a candle for each dead relative. If one of the spirits is a child, you might find small toys on the altar.
We live in a world that depletes us.
And we need places to rest and renew and to live—to be refueled.
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence.
See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…
We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
In Search Of Silence
Beyond the storm,
Where blue sky
The morning sun.
In the clearing,
Where shafts of light
Hold back the shadows
Of the ancient wood.
Beyond conflict and pain
And the inhumanity of man.
And this journey
That has seemed so long.
Beyond the history
That has brought me
To this sacred place,
This spiritual sanctuary.
(Thank you to The Quiet Garden Movement.)
“Yes, papa. I know that God is the same everywhere. But, I am not.”
This little boy knew, instinctively, that there are two spaces in our lives. And both are important.
In the first space, we generate activity, productivity, accomplishment and achievement (and yes, busyness, worry and a wee bit of stress). In this space we carry our calendars, our smart phones, our iPads, and our to-do lists.
But there is a second space. In this space we find sanctuary, quiet, reflection, contemplation, and meditation. In this space we find replenishment, spiritual nourishment and renewal. In this space is born prayer, music, poetry, friendship, amazement, awe, wonder, renewal, and if we are lucky, unrepentant napping.
I’m in favor of finding sanctuary, even in, and especially in, craziness. If we let craziness (noise and distraction) grip us, it gets dizzying, and we lose track of the music of grace.
It helps to remember Robert Capon’s observation that “we live like ill-taught piano students. So, concerned about playing the right notes, we never hear the music.”
Sanctuary is sustained by hearing the music of grace (the affirmation of dignity, the gift of enough, the necessity for and healing power in connection and benevolence and magnanimity and forgiveness and restitution), regardless of our circumstances. Why? Because the music is still there.
Buried maybe, but still there. We become encumbered, and we cede our identity and our power—which means that we give up our ability to live the music…
to create sanctuaries for renewal,
to be intentional,
to be generous,
to be big-hearted,
to be empathetic,
to be compassionate,
and to be willing to grow and to change.
It’s tempting to give instructions for hearing the music. And suggestions are okay, as long as they don’t become constraints.
That being said… if instructions would be helpful for you, start with these five:
One. Today, be gentle with yourself. Give voice to your soul, without “should” or “if only” or “what if”.
Remember that “God’s love doesn’t seek value, it creates value. It is not because we have value that we are loved, but because we are loved that we have value. Our value is a gift, not an achievement.” William Sloane Coffin
Two. Pay attention. Even if only for five minutes. What do you see, hear, taste, smell and touch? It is the permission to “be here”… now.
Three. Take a deep breath. Let it out and say, “thank you.” Literally. Name the small gifts of the day.
“Gratefulness allows us to nurture a keener eye that no longer rushes past the small everyday moments that make up the larger part of our lives.” Guri Mehta
Four. Don’t be afraid to let your heart out. Even if it hurts.
Five. Try it again tomorrow.
Mahatma Gandhi spilled a lot of light in our world. And we sometimes forget the grounding and healing power of sanctuary in “light spilling.”
You see, Ghandi spent a good deal of time at his spinning wheel. Yes, he enjoyed spinning, but it was more than that. He talked about his wheel as the place—the space—where he could remove himself from the pressing demands and issues of the day. A place where he could be centered, calm, rejuvenated. It was his sanctuary. His sacred space.
Where is your sanctuary?
Sanctuary. Yes, it does matter (makes a difference) where we tether (anchor) our identity. You see, if “more is never enough”, then hurry and distraction consume us, and our identity is disconnected. In two ways…
One, when I’m not grounded my identity (value) is about keeping score. In other words, I’m unable to see or embrace the gift of enough.
(And one more time this week remembering William Sloane Coffin’s reminder, “God’s love doesn’t seek value, it creates value. It is not because we have value that we are loved, but because we are loved that we have value. Our value is a gift, not an achievement.”)
And two, I don’t (or can’t) see the “we”. Focused only on “my” identity (or what is missing), I see life as a “me issue” so it’s no wonder that my depletion is infectious and contagious.
I forget that we are on this journey together.
I forget that we are walking one another home.
I forget that we are, in fact, Jesus in Skin with one another.
When we honor sanctuary space, we say yes to sufficiency. We say yes to enough. In other words, our value is not predicated on what we achieve in the first space (of productivity). I am whole, filled with grace and sufficiency. And from that wholeness spills tenderness, tenacity and compassion to the world around me.
I’ll give Maria Popova the final word, “Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Prayer for our week…
We pray for another way of being: another way of knowing.
Across the difficult terrain of our existence we have attempted to build
a highway and in so doing have lost our footpath.
God lead us to our footpath: lead us there where in simplicity we may move
at the speed of natural creatures and feel the earths’ love beneath our feet.
Lead us there where step-by-step we may feel the movement of creation in our hearts.
And lead us there where side-by-side we may feel the embrace of the common soul.
Nothing can be loved at speed.
God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights of the pilgrim;
another way of knowing: another way of being. Amen.
Photo… “Hi Terry, I guess my sanctuary space for the most part is my chair. I have a lot of physical problems and I don’t drive anymore so there really aren’t many places for me to get into nature. This is really a grief to me because I seem to be with God most naturally in nature. Every once in a while a friend will either come here to Sacramento and we’ll go over to the Passionist retreat center near here. This is a wonderful space in nature that I love but can rarely get too. I’ll send you pictures the next time I get to it. But in August we actually went on vacation and went to Monterey. It was wonderful, several days next to the ocean. We’d just sit next to the water and talk or were silent. Heaven. This, of course, is the famous Lone Cypress Tree at 17-mile drive, home, of course, of the Pebble Beach Golf Course. It’s incredibly beautiful there and the weather was perfect when we were there. I thought you would like to see this. God bless.”