While watching an old western movie as a child, I learned what sanctuary meant. I went to church every day as a parochial school child and cared little about the names of the parts of the building, it was just church.
But in that movie, a criminal (we called them bad guys), walked into a church and claimed sanctuary. In other words, no one could touch him, make him come out, if he didn't want to. The pastor of the church had to house the man no matter if he was judged good or bad.
Anne Lamott says: "... there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty."
I would describe many things as sanctuary today.
The memory of fishing the Ohio River with my Grandpa, riding my bike as though it were a horse, curling up to my grandma's stroke-ridden back.
Today, the sound of a creek flowing, a breeze gracing my face, and the smell of sweet grass, all feel much like a place of safety, a place to find my way back to me.
Where do you find sanctuary? Is life so chaotic that you have little time to breathe? Take a few minutes and fill your chest with air, hold it for a count of 3 or 4 and then slowly let it out. Repeat this 3 times, slow and steady breaths. Notice how differently you can think. Write about what comes up after practicing this type of breathing. And above all, be kind to yourself.
Sanctuary is not a place of perfection. it is a place to find a new way to think and feel.