A People of Sanctuary
Will you be my refuge? My haven in the storm…
Will you keep the embers warm when my fire’s all but gone?
Will you remember, and bring me sprigs of rosemary…
(Will you) be my sanctuary, ’til I can carry on?
— Carrie Newcomer, “Sanctuary”
The word “sanctuary” conjures up so many images. Images of refugees fleeing political turmoil, persecution, and violence — finding safety across a border in a strange land. The new Sanctuary movement that many UU congregations are part of — a movement that is helping refugees and undocumented immigrants find shelter and seek citizenship.
Sanctuary. Makes me think of Shiawassee Flats — a national wildlife refuge near my hometown of Saginaw, MI. When my mom took me there, we crouched in the reeds and marveled at a million migratory birds freely living wild on land protected from human development. And I think of one of my best friends, finding sanctuary in music as a teenager growing up in an abusive family. I can see her lying on her bed in her attic room, eyes closed, headphones on — safe in a nest of rhythm and chords. And sanctuary also brings images of sacred spaces — inside a church or mosque or temple, or outside, under the sun and the stars. Spaces in which our human spirits connect more easily with “all that is.”
But when I listen to the Carrie Newcomer song, “Sanctuary,” quoted above, I’m drawn back to the times in my life when kind others gave me sanctuary in my hour of need. The time when I was a young professional on my first “business trip,” and was hurt in a car crash on my way to the airport to fly home. A mere acquaintance took me in, let me stay, and helped me re-book my missed flight the next day. The time when I was a poor graduate student and kind colleagues often invited me to dinner. And the time only a few years ago, when I was numb with the shock of realizing that my marriage was over, and a friend sheltered me and listened to my hurt and my fears.
In this month of our Soul Matters theme, “A People of Sanctuary,” I invite you to remember the people who have given you sanctuary. And to consider how we might offer the sanctuary to one another, and to those who are not yet with us at UUCW.
With deep caring,
The Rev. Suzelle Lynch, Minister