The blog entry below is a ‘move-over’ from a Facebook status-musing this morning, with a little editing and a few adds. I thought it worth contributing to the conversation, the meaning-making, the mourning, the hopes…
So many things swirl around the internet and social media – and in my own thoughts, prayer, reflection – with Robin Williams’ death. Video clips, recent or decades old interviews or parts played, the reactions of friends, fans and celebrities: tons of short and long features and reflections are available for review. And I’ve paged and viewed a good number, stunned, along with the many others sharing the experience and coping some with the loss of such a gifted artist in such a tragic way by doing so in common, remembering him and being inspired by his work. His career and his way of being in the world – comedic and vulnerable, real and ragged – and his way of telling stories – these made him very accessible to many of us, as if we had a decades-long relationship with him as a brilliant-quirky-wise-sad-hysterical-laugh-out-loud relative in our extended families.
Among all swirling in my own heart and mind this morning, this comes through and holds my attention.
We all need refuge: places and people and perspectives and ways to access truth that we can run to and lean on not only in great need, but in the beauty and terror we experience in echoes in everyday. We need to know ourselves known and seen and embraced and accompanied. We need practices and pathways to help us stand in the truth that we are immensely loved and unshakeably safe, especially in storms and confusion and pain which all experience.
Robin’s death brings to mind the need we all have for sanctuary. So that is my prayer… a dwelling with this word, this reality… sanctuary. How can we find it? Be it? Create it for each other? In our vulnerability receive it? In our grasping or addictions not withhold it from each other?
And, as I consider this, I wonder how this relates, yes, to Robin’s amazing life/gifts/pain/need/struggles and our own. But also our need for sanctuary, and our struggles to find it (sometimes, in our perception, over and against others) speaks to me of children on borders, of violence in relationships or in the Middle East and anywhere on our globe or in our homes, of people isolated due to illness or age or limitations or labels or even our/their own disastrous choices. We are fragile and fascinating and amazing and in need.
If we come – and we do – from Trinity Love, and live too within the circle of that embrace, can we learn and taste and access and become truly sanctuary with and for each other in our world? I hope so.
I need sanctuary. Don’t you? Let us help each other find it. Let us create it with our words and glances, our sensitivities and welcomes, our policies and politics, our anthropologies and theologies and ecclesiologies, and our listening. Let us send each other ‘home’ and protect the silence around one another, as we each do the necessary work of presence and patience, nurturing what emerges and is formed in us slowly and gradually. Our souls are shy, Parker Palmer has liked to tell us.* They need safe places to thrive, to find what is true, to seek integrity, to come to be. Let us be harbor-sanctuary seekers and makers, releasing smaller efforts that close us and others off. Let us cease judgments and violences, and all the ways we isolate each other and ourselves. We need conversions and transformations as individuals and as a human race…. and to accept the Grace in abundance available for our turning and learning.
It is simply true that life’s cycles and challenges are difficult. (We’ve all heard that growing old is not for wimps or sissies! ) Deaths and resurrections, both. May we pursue working for sanctuary gently, yet boldly – and daily.
And for those in struggle, the psalm song refrain of a loved prayer echoes for me: “Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble. Be with me Lord. Be with me. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble. Be with me Lord. Be with me.” Be with us, Lord, each and all… and remind us of your presence. Mend our freedom and our sight – from all our specific impairments – so that we may choose the good, affirm the good, learn joy, trust, and build havens and harbors, and frequently visit them for our strength and empowering.
Friends, will you join me in prayer and reflection with the word SANCTUARY, and anything it touches, calls, incites, invites in you?
* Parker Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness, is elegantly expressive on this point.