By Rev. Patricia Greene
It goes without saying that these days are challenging, but amid the challenges, I have been grateful to find opportunities for growth. I have learned lessons and begun new practices that I hope I will carry with me for years. One of the challenges for me has been the changed relationship with “Church.” Having never been a lover of technology, these days have stretched me to embrace it more in order to maintain connection. I have found myself deeply missing not only the people (and their hugs!) and the chance to worship side-by-side with them, but also the physical sanctuary space.
Physical space has long been special to me. I have enjoyed stopping at random churches, driving miles for the chance to visit a specific church, sitting in the pews, appreciating beauty, feeling connection, finding sanctuary. In these days where neither worshiping physically with others nor finding solace in the church building is possible, I have found myself grieving these losses. Yet I have been reminded in countless ways that in these strange days, and in the midst of my grief, light – God’s own Light – still shines! It is a work in progress, but I am being ever-reminded of the gifts of sanctuary that can always be found.
The sanctuary connects me to the divine…
It is healing,
Sanctuary can be seen in the glory of trees; it can be heard in the song of birds; it can be felt on Zoom as the beloved faces of the church appear.
The sanctuary draws me toward the great cloud of witnesses that have worshiped in years past…
The grace-filled hands that passed the peace
The voices courageously lifted in song and prayer
The spirits that bridge the gap between past and present
These saints of old surround us still, not bound by time or place. Their wisdom whispers around us…guiding, challenging, loving.
The sanctuary reminds me of
The pews I used to dust and the heat vents I would stand over, dress billowing
The stained-glass windows that filled my soul with light
The baptismal waters that flowed around me, and the Table that fed me so well
The memories are forever a part of me…as I sit on my floor paying attention to my breath, as I watch the sun glance off the pond, as I wash my hands, as I share dinner with a friend on FaceTime.
The sanctuary has strengthened me…
Its space has been safe haven
Its community has nurtured and inspired
Its music has breathed peace and challenge
As prayers are spoken on the phone, as cards are mailed and read, as masks are worn, as the melodies of undying love linger in the air, there is sanctuary.
While I long for the healing, hope, and safety of that physical place,
While I yearn for the connection to the divine and saints of old that dances there,
While I ache for the chance to rest again in that hallowed space with my beloved family,
I will still sing, voice raised in prayer and praise
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost
I will still breathe words of sacred gift as I look into the eyes of those around me
Peace be with you
I will still seek God in the flowers, and birds, and the laughter of children
Open my eyes that I may see
I will still find ways to share the most incredible reality of human worth
We are beloved children of God…all of us
I will still do my best to walk this journey faithfully knowing that I am not alone
And lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
I will still be grateful
For there is light.
There is always Light.
And in the very act of breathing, may we all find sanctuary for our souls.
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