Sanctuary basically means a safe haven. In history religious shrines have mostly figured as places where violence was prohibited. The oppressed or people in any kind of danger would flee to the church to escape attack or even justice. Like the safe place in a game of tag, they could not be molested here. Nowadays people in danger of deportation sometimes seek refuge in churches, a reminder of the sanctity of the church.
I wonder what might figure as a sanctuary in our everyday lives? Hospitals now seem to function like an assembly line factory with time limits and legal constraints. So bewilderingly large and complex are they with prohibited areas, endless corridors and a million people. There are also financial bills attached.
Yet they are sanctuaries from some angles. Here the infectious people need not fear reprisal for their disease nor neglect. People infected with HIV are often ostracized and people with chronic diseases like tuberculosis and cancer face impatience and frustration of family and friends because of financial burdens or added responsibility. The treatment may be faceless with numerous changing doctors and nurses but several burdens are lifted as patients do not have to fend for themselves. Also as injuries and diseases are cured people get a new lease on life from hospitals, for example people with cleft palates usually have a speech impediment that influences their lives. Then consider psychiatry cases like depression etc., their problems are often intangible to others but receive proper attention here.
Another place I would consider a sanctuary would be home. Home is basically a refuge from the world where we should be happy. It is a repository of our dreams, our good times and bad times, our wishes, our freedom, and our responsibility. Sometimes I feel as if time soaks into the walls so that rooms take on peculiar characteristics and associations with memories. But time might as easily cling to something else, a saying, a scene like light on a window, something like a polished door or wicker furniture which forever remind us of home or childhood. Most homes fulfill the condition of physical safety but what about mental serenity? The thing is that homes seem now to be just as demanding as a full time day job. Whether it is to keep up our image in our own eyes or our social circles people go all out to have a thoroughly inconvenient home strewn with expensive clutter. Some homes are dominated by one person who orders around everyone else, while others are marked by neglect and indifference.
True homes should be a breathing space, peaceful and dependable. Consideration is a major part of the foundation of such a home. I was taught that when anyone returned tired from work or school, they should not be greeted by “what went wrong today” news nor should errands or chores be recited. They should not find the bathroom occupied and so on. Such small actions make a home comfortable and a sanctuary from a demanding world.