Tag Archives: sanctuaries

My sanctuaries

My father gave me chess and unlocked the door to reading. My mother and father opened the wondrous world of books and classical music for me. I loved certain pieces of classical music so much, my request to have them playing on the record player so I could listen as I went to sleep was rarely, if ever, denied. These beautiful places of sanctuary have always welcomed me, no matter the moment my life.

It is true that life can wallop any of us so hard the pain puts us out of action, for a time. Time, for me, in which I can’t always find my way back to books, chess, music. However, it is never lost on me that they’re there, waiting. They never abandon me.

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For SCK & VBK

For the love of sanctuary

In times of upheaval, noise, and fear, like those we’re going through now with the Trump administration’s penchant for dishonesty, disregard for equal rights, and seeming dislike for democracy itself, finding healthy places of refuge are important. I can’t tell you what the healthiest places are for you, I can tell you what they are for me.

Books, music, dance, nature, love,  are all sanctuaries for me. In his essay, “Nature”, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Here is a sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes. Here we find nature to be the circumstances which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges like a god all men that come to her.” I agree with Emerson, far beyond the reach of any mastery of words I might have in my possession.

For me, the sanctuary found in nature’s embrace protects the soul while the sanctuary in a loved one’s embrace protects the heart. We are all connected.

And yes, of course, music. Classical, jazz, international, Springsteen, the Beatles, and so on. The right music can take the blues away and allow an already happy day to strut its stuff in the clouds. Nature and music aside, it is safe to say books are my primary refuge. They have been for nearly as long as I have memory.

Of all the gifts my parents gave me, I rank my love of reading at the top. I read thirty to forty-something books a year on average. I am baffled by those who go through life without them. No doubt they are aware of other sanctuaries life offers that are utterly lost on me. I hope so. We all need them, and, more importantly, we all deserve them. From my days of homelessness to now, being connected to a book makes the shifting currents of life easier to manage.

Through good times and bad, if you’ll permit me the use of an all too worn phrase, I’ve been part of the infinite number of worlds found in the pages of books. Along the way I spent time with Dickens and Steinbeck, Edith Wharton, Jon Dos Passos, Whitman, Updike, Anna Quindlen, James Salter,  and on and on and on. My mind has traveled the sentences their minds created! And, along the way, I’ve hung out with Pip, and listened to Steinbeck’s Charley bark like crazy at the bears in a canyon out west. I spent time with Lincoln and his cabinet in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s, “Team of Rivals.”

Your refuge can be a rich resource of knowledge. I gobbled up Shelby three-volume, “Civil War: A Narrative,” a collection of work so extraordinary I almost believed I was living in the 1860s and nowhere else.

Taking healthy care of yourself is not an act of disloyalty to anyone else. Moreover, remembering to take care of yourself, a retreat into a loved sanctuary, a conversation with a friend, say, will make you far more effective when you turn your focus to the benefit of others. Something we all need to do in today’s climate.

Sanctuary

All of us deserve a sanctuary in life, more than one if we’re lucky.

I find sanctuary on the page, a place to come to, go to, a place that as long as I am breathing is always there. It is a place where I can read the words of others and a place where words from my pen can spill out and try to find their way. My words may not dazzle or be of any particular value to anyone but me, but they are mine, and, over the years, we have become good friends.

Words are living things, individuals all. They have expression and scent and color and tone; they come in all different shapes and sizes.  They are, for me, great company. I  don’t know how I could go through life or if I’d even want to go through life without books.

I could no more survive the absence of books than I could the absence of air.

Writing Sanctuary

Last night, an unexpected and brutally painful event wounded my heart and soul. It reminded me how blessed I am to have the sanctuary of writing. As for specifics of the event itself, let me just say that you can love some in life with all your might and their demons will still lead them to cut your throat.

Writing is not easy, at least not for me. I find few things more intimidating than an empty page that expects me (of all people!) to fill it with something. Yet, once the story begins, the characters are there. You get to know them and they get to know you. In a very real way you become deeply close to each other. I even grow close to the characters I don’t like. Usually I don’t like them because they are laced with cruelty and greed and their siblings, none of whom have never impressed me. But I like my characters – all of them – because I grow to know the all of them.

When life wounds my heart and soul, it is comforting to know I have the sanctuary of writing to return to, my characters to hang out with. I hope you, my dear reader, have sanctuaries in your life too. We all deserve them.
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