What Does It Mean to Be
A People of Sanctuary?

Just saying the word “sanctuary” can bring a sense of peace and safety. It can also bring back conflicted memories for some — places that were supposed to be safe, but really weren’t, places where the sacred was distorted in the pursuit of power.

For most of us the idea of sanctuary conjures up feelings of being protected.  Like its close cousin refuge, it 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.  As the well-loved Irish proverb puts it, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”  So, certainly, the hunger for protection and the call to protect each other is central to this month.

But sanctuaries in our lives do more than simply protect us.  They also send us.  They don’t just help us heal from our journeys; they also strengthen us for the new journeys ahead.  They are not escape houses as much as fueling stations.  The archetypal image of a toddler leaving and returning to their parent’s leg comes to mind.  That “home base” is not a tether but the very thing that allows us to venture out.  We hope that UUFM is that “home base” for you.

Of course, 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.  The life-giving interdependent web needs us as much as we need it.  The same is true for the sanctuaries in our personal lives.  Friendship, silence, stillness:  these are all things that wither if we don’t tend to and make space for them.  So, in the end, maybe the most important question this month is “How are we caring for our sanctuaries so they can take care of us?”

A people of sanctuary protect, heal and comfort, not only one another, but especially those who most need safety.  Our safe haven at UUFM supports us to find the holy in everything and everyone, nurturing the light.  Experience the holy flame of sanctuary with us throughout the month of October.