"I'm Just Not That Glowy"
On Being Nothing In Particular

Where Do You Find Sanctuary?

2013_toyota_prius_v_interrior
Back in December, during a worship service at KC, people were sharing some thoughts about practices that were keeping them spiritually grounded during the hectic holiday season.  Someone was lighting a candle when she had her morning coffee and someone was reading an Advent meditation on his email each morning and someone else praying for each person to whom she mailed a Christmas card.  But the comment that really made an impact on me was:

“I’ve made my car into a sanctuary.”

The person who said this spends a lot of time driving for work, so she has intentionally made her car into a place where she can reconnect to the Spirit.  She sets the tone with contemplative sacred music and she offered to supply anyone who was interested with a CD of quiet Christmas music for them to use throughout the month.

I was impressed with comments in large part because I could not even imagine having a sanctuary in my minivan.  When I entered my 2002 Ford Windstar, all the feelings I experienced were negative.  I was annoyed at all the things that are broken on the van, from the back doors to the back hatch to the volume knobs on the radio to the CD player (so much for the kind offer of contemplative holiday music).  I also felt resentful at Ford who recalled the van at least 5 times—shouldn’t they just admit the model is a total failure and offer to buy it back?  And I felt vaguely anxious that the van would break down yet again and require another $1,000 in repairs.

But the image of finding sanctuary in one’s car stayed with me.  This past Saturday, we decided that the time had come to get rid of the Windstar and get a new (used) car.  Our first choice was to buy the new, larger Prius V, but since the model has only been around for a year we thought it would be impossible to find one used.  But to our surprise, we found exactly what we were looking for the first place we went.

Suddenly, I’m driving a car that I feel great about.  I don’t have really high standards—I’m delighted that it starts, it stops and it doesn’t make weird noises.  What’s more, all the doors open, the hatch opens and best of all, the CD player sounds great AND I can even plug in my iPod.  The first CD I played was the one with the contemplative Christmas music.  I don’t care if the season has passed—I’m making up for lost time.  I get in the car, exhale, and imagine that I have entered a sanctuary.  It is a completely different experience of driving. 

I’ve never really thought about making a sanctuary for myself.  A sanctuary, in my experience, is a room in a church or a place in the woods dedicated to wildlife.  I might go to those places seeking beauty or solitude or peace, but they aren’t part of my “regular” life.  I need to intentionally seek them out—I don’t just stumble upon them.

Maybe I could benefit from a few more sanctuaries in my life.  Maybe I could create a few more, closer at hand, in my car or in my home or in my neighborhood.  I occurs to me that finding—or making—sanctuaries in my every day life is part of finding the sacred in the profane, part of challenging the separation we make between the sacred and the profane and proclaiming that “everything is holy now”

What about you?  Have you found sanctuary in an unlikely place?  Have you gone about creating sanctuary in a place where you need it? 

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Roger Grussing

Sanctuary has come to me as a connection over time and space with people with whom I crossed paths, spent time and shared life "back then" and "over there". A sense of all rightness, and authenticity of belief and hopefulness makes a sanctuary wherever and whenever I open personal mail, email or answer my cellphone. That mystic time and distance defying sanctuary is where I am at the moment, but has tentacles which reach back and forward over time and stretches out across great distances. It puts me in a holy place with far reaching extremities, one of which you occupy!

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