Sep 24 2018

October Journal – Taking it Home: Creating Sanctuary

Published by at 4:27 pm under Minister's Musings

Taking It Home: Creating Sanctuary

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones, with help from the Soul Matters Sharing Circle


During this two-year Interim Period, we here at the First Unitarian Church of San José will be diving into the nitty-gritty of how we can best embody our Unitarian Universalist faith. And like the old joke about “how do you get to Carnegie Hall,” we can only strengthen our capacity to live the life-saving, life-giving core of Unitarian Universalism through “Practice, Practice, Practice”!

So each month, I’m offering “Taking It Home,” suggestions about how to turn our monthly themes into practical, life-changing guides. I hope you and your family will try on these exercises. Often they will deepen our worship experiences, too. Here are two for this month’s theme of “What does it mean to be a people of Sanctuary?”


Building an Altar to Sanctuary for October’s Worship

Sanctuary comes to us in many forms. This exercise invites us to meditate on the gifts of our many sanctuaries. Over the next few days and weeks, notice all the various places, spaces, relationships, and experiences that function and have functioned as sanctuary for you. Where, when, or with whom do you find peace, grounding, inspiration, and the chance to be your most authentic self? Do you find sanctuary here at FUCSJ, for instance? Do you find it by the ocean or in the woods? Do you find it in conversation with your best friend, or when you are immersed in a good book or movie, or when you are out for a run?

Here’s the crucial part: As you remember and notice these sanctuaries, identify a symbol or token that represents them. For instance, collect a picture of the person who has been sanctuary for you. If it’s a physical space like your home, pick a small object that represents it. If it’s a park or beach where you love to sit or walk, choose a picture or print out a description; bring a leaf or shell if it’s OK to pick one up. If it’s your garden, choose a spray of flowers or herbs that you have grown.

Please bring these symbols of your sanctuaries to worship with you on October 7, 14, and 21, and add them to our joint altar. Much like the annual creation of our Day of the Dead altar, we will create a space that represents inspiration and grounding for all of us—a visual and tactile place that can strengthen our spirits and fuel our actions. Pulling all our diverse sanctuaries into one space helps anchor us in the truth that life itself is more of a sanctuary than we sometimes think.


Creating a Sanctuary at the End of Each Day

Many of us have “morning rituals of sanctuary.” We meditate, take the dog for a walk, do some yoga, cook, or read something special. We start the day with a sense of grounding and inspiration.

Psychologists tell us that ending the day with the experience of sanctuary can be even more important. This month, find a practice that lets you end your day with sanctuary. The following article, called “Evening Ritual: The 7 Things That Will Make You Happy at Night,” offers ideas and explanations about why this is key to spiritual centeredness:


A Word of Assurance

Friends, I too have trouble fitting a new practice into my life, especially in these times when everything feels urgent. But an old spiritual truth says that such times are exactly when we most need to slow down, pay attention, and take the time to do what needs to be done. To be loving and effective in our jobs, families, and friendships, in our congregation and communities, we need to be grounded, to find inspiration, and to stay in touch with our most authentic self. So won’t you please be accountability partners with me, checking in about how our “practice” is going?

I can’t wait to experience the peace and grounding we will create.


With love and faith,

Rev. Nancy

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