"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Four Days--Sanctuary

"Sanctuary," 5 x 7 acrylic greeting card

live in a country, a world, a season of people seeking sanctuary.

  • You see it in the immigrants, the migrants, risking their lives trying to escape war, terrorism and poverty.
  • You see it when governments and  politicians build walls for protection, whether in America, North Korea, Berlin or China.
  • You see it in people living in "gated" communities out of fear or greed, whose medieval ancestors built castles for the same reasons. It's reflected in the aphorism, "A man's home is his castle."

I suppose we are not the only creations that seek sanctuary. Consider the multitudes of wildlife, mammals, fish, birds, insects, that find strength in numbers and choose living places for protection. 

Perhaps it is natural for beings. For me, an isolated cabin or camping out is my dream sanctuary from the busyness and worries and craziness of the world. I imagine almost everyone has such a place in mind and heart. 

When we lose the illusion that we are in control of our lives, there is another kind of sanctuary when the physical fails--spiritual. That realization, that need is responsible for the religions of the world--and that is really what Christmas, the fourth day from now, symbolizes.

Jesus came when the world was dominated by a violent, domineering empire built on slavery and Emperor worship. In the face of those conditions what he taught offered sanctuary from a materialistic and hopeless existence where there was no physical sanctuary.

You will see it as thousands flock to churches this Christmas eve and Christmas day, seeking an inner sanctuary in this uncertain, unhealthy and unsafe world.

All these thoughts caused me to look up  the root meanings of the world. The etymology tells you much about spiritual sanctuary.

It comes from the Latin sanctuarium, from sanctus ‘holy’. It was first used in Middle English from the Old French sanctuaire, adopted from church or other teaching for a sacred place where a fugitive was immune, by the law of the medieval church. By the way, the root word sanctus is also where we get the word "saint."

"This world is not my home."--Are we not all fugitives seeking sanctuary?

Thus this painting of a sanctuary on our journeys.

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