Sanctuary

“Leave it at the door.” One of our youth I’ve come to know and respect over the last four years as a volunteer and now as staff shared this nugget of wisdom with me over a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger™ from Jack in the Box this morning. The story of every youth is different, the pain and trauma very real and awful, but the beauty of a sanctuary is that it is a refuge from all that we want to run away from, a space to breathe, seen and safe. At SYM, we hope for our drop-in to be that space for youth (a goal we strive for but still have a ways to go).

I wrote this packing up for a fun retreat last weekend, but those words are still sticking with me. Leave it at the door. All my own baggage, which has been painfully obvious to me in this season of my life, feels like an exhausting deadweight chained to my heart. I am content and well, but my internal dialogue rains down on me from time to time, incessant droplets of “what-if” and other scathing internal reviews that can drown out my voice of reason. I by no means wish to compare my struggles to the trauma of being disowned for one’s sexuality or years of being without permanent housing; I do, though, find it worthwhile to acknowledge our shared need for sanctuary.

 Our beloved drop-in space

Our beloved drop-in space

“Thou hast made us for thyself,” St. Augustine writes of God, “and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” There is only one true sanctuary, where the heart, mind, and soul can take a break from the ever-present stressors of this world. We cannot do without it. We all need it, whether it’s a staircase in an alley or a three-story villa we call home. We are all human, and in our humanity we need sanctuary.

Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.

 
— St. Augustine

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). I am your sanctuary, God lovingly tells us. “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:16). Leave behind your worries, your insecurities, your hopes and dreams and future. Leave it all at the door. In God’s loving and all-consuming embrace, there is sanctuary with equal access for all people.