For nine years, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, a flat place surrounded by bluffs, where the Wisconsin River meets the Mississippi, was Karen's home. It’s an old sanctuary place where animosities could be set aside and people would not harm one another while camping there. Years ago, the warring Fox and Sauk people pulled up their canoes and peacefully traded with one another. Then the white people came and they, too, safely traded for furs and signed treaties at this commonly held "safe place" on the river.
Sanctuaries have been safe havens for as long as we can remember. The ancients in Ephesus, for instance, had their Artemesian temple where men, women, children could come and once inside her columns, no one could hurt them. There, they’d be clothed and fed. For a few years the entire city was linked by ropes to the temple columns so the whole city became a sanctuary city.
Across the globe, chiefs were buried behind a little wall on the Kona coast of the big island of Hawaii. You couldn’t spill blood there, so it became a Place of Refuge. Ever after, anyone reaching this sandy, sheltered spot, Puuhonua o Honaunau, was safe. It’s now a National Park and offers sanctuary to the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, Honu.
If you take the high road to Taos out of Santa Fe, you‘ll come to the little village of Chimayo, New Mexico, with it famous Sanctuario—a tiny church offering healing earth. Rows of hanging crutches and braces and and wheelchairs attest to its Lourdes-like atmosphere. And people take small bits of the healing sand away with them.
Sheryl enjoys morning walks around her lake in Massachusetts. Near a craggy rocky outcropping is a bench which marks an ancient sanctuary space for Native Americans who once lived on that ground. She describes it as a “felt place,” a spot that says “That's it!” Sheryl's body tells her many important things have happened in that spot, in that particular energy field.
Sancturaries are safe, healing places. There your heart sees and hears new messages and life is cushioned—for a bit.
Where do you feel safe? Where are today’s sanctuary spaces?