Home exists to provide you ‘sanctuary’

You couldn’t grow up during World War II without grieving.
How well I remember the evening paper with its growing news and horrors. The bombs that fell on homes and businesses. And later, even on churches.
Oh, there was an occasional bright spot, like the story of a London baker who quickly turned off the oven on his half-baked rolls before running to safety in a bomb shelter. And later when the baker resumed the baking process, he discovered the rolls turned out perfectly.
It wasn’t long until those half-baked rolls went commercial, and do you remember how wonderful they smelled when your mother finished baking them for Sunday dinner?
But the bright spots were far too few. And the most horrific news of all was the mushrooming report of horror in Hitler’s death camps.
It was a dark time, and every day when the newspaper came, I sought out a place to be alone. Paper in hand, I went to my sanctuary—the parlour.
Now parlours were never meant to be used on a day-to-day basis. That’s why they were called parlours—“A room in a private dwelling for the entertainment of guests.”
But if you can’t use a part of your home for healing when you need it, what good is a home?
Fortunately, nobody ever asked any questions when I opened and went through the double French doors into the parlour. And no one ever followed me there.
I would lie on the floor, flat on my stomach, propped up on my elbows, and read the evening news. And also the comics, because you always need some laughter in life to balance the tragedy.
It was in that parlour in 1942 that I learned the meaning of home as sanctuary.
In 1945, the war ended. By then, the old home with its parlour was gone and I had a new sanctuary. This time, healing came on a grassy slope in the backyard, overlooking a beautiful valley.
It was there that I listened to a village celebrate. Horns blew, sirens screamed, church bells rang. The war was over, and my new sanctuary was the perfect place to begin to experience healing.
Recently, I listened to an audio tape “Home—The Making of Sanctuary” by Gunilla Norris, and all the old feelings of needing sanctuary returned.
Norris says home is “a place where we are sheltered from the winds.” “An abode for the soul.”
Whether your home is a log cabin in the woods, a tiny city apartment, an old-fashioned farmhouse, or one room in a nursing home, its purpose is to care for you and to shelter you. And to offer sanctuary to all who enter there.
What’s important about a home is not how clean the windows are or how new the carpet is. Or how many square feet it contains. No, what’s important about a home is what happens to you as you live there one day at a time.
A home can connect you to nature. It can bring you close to the earth. And connect you to people. But most of all, a home can give you a place to be alone when you need healing.
We never grow too old to need sanctuary. Maybe we even need sanctuary more this side of 60. And sometimes we must find it in new places.
So take a look around you today. How can you create an abode for your soul? And how can that “sanctuary” contribute to your healing?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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