I took my journal and headed downtown. Sanctuary. A word that means a place of safety. A place of refuge. On Sunday evening, it was the label of the church service I attended.
I decided to forgo the service at my usual church of choice this last Sunday morning. I wanted to spend time with my son before he returned to college. Instead I went to Sanctuary, a service held Sunday evenings at the cathedral where I attended church most of 2014. The cathedral is where an Episcopalian congregation has worshiped for a few hundred years. Actually since 1774, I believe. I came to the conclusion towards the end of last year it was time for me to settle in someplace else, for reasons I’m not even sure I’ve convinced myself of, but that’s the fodder for another blog entry….not this one.
Anyway, earlier on Sunday I read a piece my sixteen year old daughter wrote regarding church and how she feels about God. She is in Europe currently, and has had the opportunity to visit beautiful cathedrals there. I’m sure she’ll see more before she returns home. Her writing reminded me of some of the reasons I enjoy my times at the cathedral. Much of it has to do with the sanctuary. Yes, the actual room. It’s beautiful, vast, designed in a manner so there’s no question of its purpose.
I wrote in my journal Sunday evening. Prayers. Desires of my heart. While sitting in this place of safety, this refuge. There’s something about sitting in a huge room, candles lit, stained glass windows visible, incense burning [yes, I know…..incense is odd to the evangelical type, but trust me, it’s okay…..] that draws me closer to God’s presence. Me and God. Just me and God. Even in a huge space with others present.
I am probably most envious of my daughter’s time in Europe when I see her photos of cathedrals. I would absolutely love an hour in one of these centuries old buildings created for the purpose of worshiping God. I suppose it’s the very real reminder of how small I am compared to Him. Me in a huge expanse of a room dedicated to His glory. Ornate and filled with symbols. There’s no mistaking one’s in a church. Not a multipurpose gymnasium. Not a building built for comfort.
Later Sunday evening, I read Psalm 63:2.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.
I realize the writer of the above verse was most likely referring to the the temple, as in a building. Yet it’s interesting to me that the two definitions of sanctuary are a place of worship and a nature preserve [as in the outdoors]. The two environs I find most conducive to seeking God. New Year’s Day included a hike with my son. The other type of sanctuary. Nature. Trees, creeks, sunshine even though it was cold. Beauty despite it being winter. The harshest of seasons where I live.
Sanctuary….seeking God. Specific places, though vastly different. But both avail the same.