Throughout history, the idea behind “sanctuary” has changed. Early on in ancient Greek and Roman times, is where the earliest sanctuaries were seen as being a place of refuge for people accused of crimes, sheltering them from arrest.
Interestingly enough, however, anthropologists have learned that the idea of sanctuaries, or places of asylum, were common throughout various different cultures around the world, to include many indigenous cultures, as well.
As time has passed, the concept of the sanctuary has changed to something more universal to the general populous. Now when we refer to our homes, or a place we feel at peace, we consider it a place of sanctuary, or refuge.
Added to the idea of sanctuary as a place of safety against incrimination or discrimination, is now the peaceful place for resting the mind and the body.
It is in this last premise where I would like to place my focus.
With all that is going on in the country right now, it is obvious to me that there are a lot of people in pain and they are trying to be heard. There are people pouring out their souls with their experiences and their frustrations. However, on social media, especially, once they do so, another person typically attempts to discredit, or downplay, that pain.
Unfortunately I have witnessed these encounters time and again but just as unfortunate, are the actions committed in the real world, absent of compassion, so prominently put on display on popular media outlets.
I see these to be missed opportunities at dialogue. Missed opportunities for healing. Wiped out by an act of aggressive speech or physicality.
So I have decided to be a person who provides sanctuary for the feelings of others and take them seriously. I have chosen to be someone to provide refuge for the emotions that people are feeling.
I understand how it feels to need to be heard, and to feel helpless that no one will listen. I understand the anxiety and the frustration that comes with not having an outlet, or the belief that no outlet exists. I choose to be someone who will listen. I choose to be an outlet.
What I would like to ask anyone who is reading this blog post now, is to do the same.
Listen to your friend. Listen to your neighbor. Listen to your grocery store worker. Listen to your barber. Listen to them all and take what they have to say seriously and with compassion.
These people are not strangers, and their problems did not spring up out of nowhere. Their issues were not placed in their psyche, and their anxieties are not the product of conspiracy. Their experiences are real, and they need to be validated.
Just as difficult as it is to not be heard, is the problem of not being understood. Take the time to converse and consult. Utilize intelligence and reason to decipher problems and find solutions. Communication and conversation are skills sharpened over time and with experience. It is imperative to be patient.
We don’t all have to be counselors, but we can do one better. We can be friends. A faithful listener, free of judgment. Someone who is trustworthy and can be confided in.
A resource in short supply right now.
I am trying to do that for people now. To be a sanctuary for mental anguish. Especially now when it is so badly needed.
But to make a real difference in our world, I am going to need help.
Much like the hero who steps forward who never knew they had “it” in them, I now reach out to anyone who feels they can be someone who can listen, to be a shoulder to cry on, to be hand to hold.
The world needs a wave of compassion never before seen. A movement of benevolent human beings to accompany all other movements being amassed at this moment in time. A movement of sympathy and kindness to counter the emotions of frustration building up around us.
It is not easy to listen to the problems of people. It’s difficult, and can be emotionally and physically draining. To this I can speak to with plenty of experience. I have heard the confessions of sinners who have committed serious transgressions. And the confessions of a victim are even more difficult to endure.
Take on only what you can carry. Lean on your support circles for your own strength, but don’t let the physical strain of listening to the problems of others deter you from being someone who can be confided in.
To be a sanctuary is a lot of work. But it is a much needed vocation right now, so I ask you to consider it.
Be someone willing to listen. Be someone who cares. Be someone who can withhold judgment of a person’ faults and connect with your heart. Soul to soul.
It can be risky. But the reward, in my mind, is well worth the risk.
Calm your mind, open your heart, and listen. If you can; Be a sanctuary for the mind.