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Archive for the ‘Sanctuary’ Category

Last Sunday, I was a guest minister at a Seattle church. The people were very warm, welcoming, and open, and I felt very much at home. Responding to the pastor’s invitation to move from our pews to greet people we didn’t know, we joyously engaged in “radical hospitality.” How could he have known I’d be writing a post about this very topic?!

Children Sharing.Gloria Burgess.Radical Hospitality

What is radical hospitality? It’s genuine kindness and generosity not because you know someone; it’s kindness and generosity just because.

– Because we are in love with God… and we see and experience God’s love in others.

– Because we are our sister’s and brother’s keepers.

– Because we share a home – this great blue and green marble we call planet Earth – and we want others to feel welcome in our home.

– Because we must care for our home  so that, as gracious stewards, we pass on a worthy inheritance to our children and our children’s children.

– Because we must be about legacy living, about planting trees whose shade we might never enjoy.

The greatest force on earth is not compulsion of law. It is compassion of love. ~ Unknown

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Sanctuary is very special time-out-of-time, a time-honored way to practice self-care for your own healing, renewal, and rejuvenation. It is a time set aside with the intention to take special care of ourselves, so that we can better care for others and our environment. In this sense, Sanctuary is about both “me” and“we” and how deeply connected we are.

Candles.Sanctuary.Gloria Burgess

Here are a few simple ways to time renew your spirit and feed your soul:

– As we lean into autumn, the days grow shorter and we have fewer hours of daylight. During this time nature rejoices and prepares for a season of rest. Following nature’s example, take time to pause and express gratitude for your many blessings—say thank you for family, friends, bread on your table… maybe even a few extra bucks to buy a loaf of bread for someone else.

– Light a candle to remind yourself of the many miracles in your life… and to offer light and prayer for those who live in darkness—the friendless, those without shelter or ample food… those who sleep with fear each night, without hope… those who must walk miles each day in search of sanitary drinking water.

– Take 10: 10 minutes today to select 10 gently used books to give away to someone who will benefit from them—a sister, brother, niece, or nephew; young people in your neighborhood; our service men and women who proudly serve our country; those in faraway places with few or no libraries  close by.

– Get outside and rejoice in nature. Be intentional. Focus on something or someone you don’t normally notice—clouds, colors, children at play, the texture of leaves beneath your feet, teenagers walking home from school, squirrels, nests, the sound of wind in the trees, your own heartbeat. As you dwell in nature, remember that we’re part of it. Care for all of nature as if it belonged to you, because it does.

Enjoy the blessings of this harvest season and the blessings Sanctuary—peace, love, abundance, and joy.

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Peace and love.

Practice peace by breathing in peace. As you breathe in, simply say “Peace.” As you breathe out, say it again, “Peace.” Use your own words to usher in peace or use these: “Peace within me”… “Peace above me”… “Peace all around me”… “I am peace”… “I give you peace”… “Peace, peace, peace”… “Peace, laughter, love”…

Practice peace by listening to soothing, uplifting music.

Practice beat by listening to the beat of your own heart.

Practice peace by lying on the ground and gazing at the sky. Notice the clouds as they change shape. Years ago, I was lying on hillside in Scotland with the young man who would become my husband. We gazed at the sky for hours, staring at the clouds as they morphed into faces, butterflies, trees, animals. Even then, we marveled at the blessed companionship of peace and love.

Practice peace by lighting a candle or incense: as you do, say a prayer for peace for your loved ones, for your neighbors, for our leaders, for our forests, for the thousands of service men and women, for their family members, for orphans, for our rivers, streams, and oceans, for those who are without food, shelter, and hope, for those who are called to serve.

Peace and love to you and yours.

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Stop. Look. Listen. Remember these life-saving words we learned as children to guide us before crossing a busy street? ‘Tis the season to slow down and heed this simple yet profound advice, a life-giving way to create Sanctuary for yourself.

Stop. Press the pause button… so you can let go of the busyness of your day.

Look. Take time to really look at your busyness… and commit to set aside a few routine chores and responsibilities.

Listen. Take a few deep breaths. As you breathe in and out, tune in to yourself… and with an open heart, listen to what is present for you.

When your day seems to be spinning out of control, remember the life-giving blessings of Sanctuary… and remember to Stop. Look. Listen.

Enjoy the blessings of the season and of Sanctuary.

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Sanctuary renews our spirit and feeds our soul. Not only is Sanctuary a time-out-of-time for self-care, it’s also a universal, time-honored way to care for others. Sanctuary is about “me” and “we.” When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me and my four sisters to “make yourself useful”… even though we were still doing our chores.

Little did I know, my mom was teaching us not busyness for busyness sake, she was planting seeds of Sanctuary. By giving, reaching out, and being of service to others, we received gifts that money can’t buy—blessings of Sanctuary: compassion, abundance, and joy.

Here are a few simple ways to take care of yourself and make yourself useful to others—at the same time:

– As the days grow shorter, take time to pause… and say a simple thank you for the many blessings of each day—a roof over your head, friends, food on your table… maybe even a few extra bucks to buy some beans or a loaf of bread for someone else.

– Put on some soothing music and light a candle to remind yourself of the many miracles in your life… and to bring much-needed light and prayer into some of the darkest corners of our world—the 75% of people around the world who don’t have a roof over their head, who sleep each night hungry, hopeless, and afraid… who walk miles every single day in search of clean drinking water.

– Read an inspirational book—and then send it and a few more of your other gently used books to our service men and women. Take a moment and include a note of gratitude for all they do to defend our country.

–  Give thanks. Gratitude changes us. Literally! When you say thanks with a full, joyful heart, your body produces more dopamine, which is why you just feel better when you reach out to others.  As you extend gratitude to others—join us in the Seattle community on Tuesday, December 8, as we express our deep gratitude and keep vigil for four slain officers and their families. Put a blue light in your window or on your front porch in gratitude and remembrance.

– Take a walk—alone or with a friend or another loved one. In silence, as you walk, count your blessings… share them with your companion along your way—and for every step you take, consider donating some amount of your time to a local community center, school, church, mosque, synagogue, group home, or shelter… knowing that getting involved is just as important as your money, if not more so.

– Spend time in nature, focusing your attention on something you don’t normally notice—birds, leafless trees with nests in them, rocks, colors, the sound of wind, rain, snow beneath your feet, your own mighty heartbeat—and remember that you’re part of nature, not separate from it. Care for all of nature as if it belonged to you, because indeed it does.

Enjoy the blessings of Sanctuary and the season—Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

The truly wealthy give until it feels good.

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As we segue from the season of harvest to the winter holidays, may you enjoy the blessings of Sanctuary. A few days ago, when my daughter was home for the Thanksgiving holidays, we reminisced about our long-ago annual retreat to one of the great rain forests of the Pacific Northwest.

When she was a youngster, we’d go to a lovely lodge on the edge of the forest and enjoy a few days of quiet before the rush of the holiday season. Beside the warmth of the fire in the main lodge, we’d play cribbage, Scrabble, and Yahtze… and spend long hours writing letters and cards to family and other loved ones to honor Christmas and Kwanzaa. As my daughter grew older, she’d take her cello and practice in one of the rustic gathering rooms. We even played their old piano… serenading the staff and the few other guests who, like us, had come to pause and unwind.

That’s what Sanctuary is all about.

During this season of festivities and frenzied shopping, it’s important to pause, reflect on who and what’s important in your life, and take time to care for yourself.

Here are a few simple ways to pause for Sanctuary this season:

– Embrace the holidays with an open heart, mind, and spirit.

– Look at this season through the eyes of a child—filled with joy and excitement.

– Give the gift that keeps on giving—your kindness and a heart-felt smile.

– Reach out to others with a word of encouragement… or a simple prayer, to help them feel better and you feel more connected and joyful.

I hope you enjoy the blessings of Sanctuary and of the season—Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

Pass It On!

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