|Art by Abigail L. Dela Cruz of Abby Draws (used with permission)|
I desire sanctuary in my life, spaces where peace pushes out the anxiety that tends to lodge in my heart. Instead of the press of obligations to prove my worth, I long to feel at home where I am, embracing the reality of my life as it is.
Sanctuary, for me, is often about the holy places outside of church, although I have experienced it there as well. But more often I have found it in the coziness of a coffee shop with a pot of tea and a fireplace, during a solitary walk through the woods, or while sitting by moving water. I find it in my warm bed with a book and time that demands nothing more of me. I feel it in the process of writing as a spiritual practice of theological reflection and self-understanding. These moments feel like Sabbath: holy, protected, renewing, transforming rest.
These days I'm looking ahead to our December cruise vacation, knowing from experience that this sort of getaway (without access to phones and the internet or household responsibilities) is the only way to truly entice me to stop and rest. But on the other hand, I'm trying to embrace my word for this year, wholehearted, and find ways to live gratefully in the moment.
It's difficult, when I wake to the sound of my two children fighting and feel the dread of another day that feels the same as the one before. My husband and I are getting by these days by alternating "days off" when one of us is free to leave the house alone. I don't want to just get by, though. I worry that I'm missing out on the joys of these days when our children are still young and want to be with us. Even though that want feels like a ball and chain; though it feels like every last ounce of my energy is being drained away as they fight for our attention.
I write and reflect on the sacredness of parenthood and my journey to embrace the messy beauty of it all (as Glennon Melton speaks of the brutiful life that is brutal as it is beautiful). Yet it is difficult moving this truth from my brain to my heart to my actions. My kids like to protest that things aren't fair when they don't get what they want. Perhaps they have learned this from me as I protest even when I get exactly what I have been seeking.
The truth is that this is the life of my dreams. I am married to my love who supports me and truly makes me better than I could be on my own. We have two bright, creative, and relatively healthy children. I have a calling and a job that provides gratification and pushes me towards new growth. Why is it that my quest for sanctuary pushes me to retreat from all of this?
Maybe it is the introvert within me. Perhaps it is an ongoing struggle to reconcile my unrealistic expectations with reality. I think it takes stepping away to get the bigger perspective I need instead of focusing in on all that seems wrong. I need breathing space to release my frustration and clear the clutter from my mind. It is only then that I can see things for how they truly are, and that it is good.
In the sanctuary moments I am reminded that all is well enough.