Sep 24 2018

October Journal – In Our Own Voices: What does it mean to be a People of Sanctuary?

Published by at 4:48 pm under Minister's Musings

In Our Own Voices

October 2018: What does it mean to be a People of Sanctuary?

The Practice of Finding Sacred Space Within

and Ensuring Welcoming Space for All


“In Our Own Voices” captures congregants’ thoughts and feelings on the theme of the month. This year, our Worship Associates offer their first responses to each theme. May these words inspire you, too, to ask:

  • How does this theme relate to my life?
  • What does it inspire in me?
  • How does it trouble or perplex me?
  • How can it help us to live our Unitarian Universalist faith?


Safety and Comfort

  • Protect. Shelter. Retreat—as in a safe place to gather.
  • Sanctuary = Safety. Sanctuary is where you feel safe from whatever threatens you.
  • Comfort of familiarity
  • Sanctuary has many layers. It is comfort and solace to those within the community. AND political and physical safety to those within and outside our community. We can provide sanctuary from hate and rejection.
  • A quiet space in which to think and meditate.
  • A place of silence and peace. A place of safety from ICE and other predators. A physical place like a church sanctuary or church building. Could also be a policy that governs the behavior of police officers to protect vulnerable immigrants from deportation. Could be a place for all people to be with others where everyone can be their whole selves without reservation. Judgment-free space where acceptance is expected. Could also be an internal space opened up through quiet meditation and prayer.
  • El refugio—“refuge” in Spanish. A place to come back to, again and again, where love and affection are found. I thought of the elements of our sacred space: a round, circular space with a labyrinth; with music, natural light, a dome; with a pulpit—a place for voice, spoken words; with a place for storytelling, for children; a safe place, the safety to grow and take risks.
  • Catholics refer to the area around the altar as the sanctuary—the holiest part of the church. What makes the sanctuary we offer holy or sacred? Is sacrifice necessary?


Sacred Space Within

  • Sanctuary as “sacred space within”—a practice that evolves and grows
  • Do you have to find sacred space within yourself before you can offer sanctuary to another?
  • Creating a sacred space within myself where other spiritual perspectives can be respected and honored in a way that invites thoughtful expression


A Welcoming Space for All

  • Our church should express acceptance for all (of course, we do this). Welcome all. Minister to all.
  • Church should be a sanctuary, but how willing are we to be a sanctuary for all? Sometimes certain people need to be asked to leave (like the person who was a danger to children several decades ago). Do we require change of some people in order for them to be in our sanctuary?
  • A place for role playing, practicing how to be an ally, how to intervene in a conflict
  • Safe space, anti-bullying


Many Kinds of Sanctuary

  • I find that nature either on a trail or in a garden is sacred space for me.
  • We refer to a park or preserve as a sanctuary.  What is similar and what is different in what we offer?
  • “Nesting”—particularly just before someone goes into labor
  • For years, I would come home from school, set my books down, and immediately take off my dress and change into jeans, which were a kind of sanctuary from what the world wanted me to be and do.
  • Poem my daughter wrote in second grade:


quiet now

not reading

             out loud

going to bed

and sleeping

at night

not shouting

in bed.

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