Posts Tagged ‘Sanctuary’

As the golden days of autumn give way to auburn, rust, and brown,  we lean toward Thanksgiving, a season of deep gratitude.

Today and always I give thanks for my many blessings – family and friends, children’s laughter, angels and prayers that come into my life, bidden or unbidden, even my breath, which I so often take for granted… but which for some is an immense struggle.

Aunbance is Yours

Abundance is Yours

Many years ago, I wrote “Sanctuary,” one of my many poems of gratitude. I share it with you now as an offering of thanksgiving for a faithful, stout-hearted woman of God… my  mom, Mildred McEwen, and to two amazing men whose legacy of generosity and gratitude changed my life… my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.,  and William Faulkner.

Who has been a blessing in your life? Have you expressed your gratitude?


for William Faulkner and my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.*

Between the brush of angels’ wings

and furious hooves of hell, two mortal men

fell down. How you must have looked—

white shirt stained, khakis fatigued,

smelling of sweat and smoke,

hair at odds with itself and the world.

At the threshold among your restless dead

in echo and shadow of ancient oaks,

providing sanctuary, offering shade,

you had many worlds behind you,

few yet to be born: stories of insurgence,

scorn, decay—theme and variations

of a vanquished South.

Leaning against a jamb

of antebellum brass, you watched, waited,

raised weary arm and hand, saluted

the familiar stranger. Come. Enter. Sit. Sing.

You reached each other across the grate.

What you two must have known of heaven and hell.

* William Faulkner was my father’s benefactor, paying for him to attend college at a time when he had little

prospects of earning enough money to pay for it himself. This was Faulkner’s way of dismantling institutionalized racism long before desegregation was mandated in the South.


Harvest blessings.

Pass It On!


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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.

Pass It On!

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A few simple ideas to add a lift to your day.

  • Pick or buy some fresh flowers for your home or apartment. Beautiful colors and fragrance is a feast for the eyes and food the soul. 
  • Listen to your favorite music. If you want calm, choose music with a beat that’s slower than your pulse.
  • Go to a park. Leave your cell phone and anything else that beeps at home. Just take an open mind and an open heart. Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. Take a mental picture of what you see… note the colors you’re drawn.
  • Know anybody that you’re still angry with or holding a grudge against… take a moment & say a prayer for him or her. Forgive them… so you can get over it and get on with your wonderful life.

Have a blessed day.

Pass It On!

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As I reflect the many people–parents, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, & neighbors–who poured blessings into my life, I think about the power & blessings of family… the power and blessing of community. It didn’t matter if the folks in my community were related to me or not, I fondly hold them in my heart as members of my Personal Village.

What if we offered ourselves as ally and guide to others–as steward in the Personal Village of someone we love and beyond?

– Because when we open ourselves to others, we invite them into our lives, which opens the window of collaboration… and to celebrating the people in our midst and beyond.

– Because when we celebrate and lift others up, it becomes easier to address challenges in relationships, communities, and the world around us.

– Because when we reach out to address challenges, we create a golden pathway that leads to opportunity, creativity, and possibility.

– Because when we set our table with the feast of possibility, we provide bread for the journey for those who suffer adversity and calamity.

– Because when we honor and respect those who suffer and those who are vulnerable, we extend compassion, sanctuary, and peace.

– Because when we tender peace, we pour loving balm into small and great injuries and wounds-our own and others’.

Each moment, a ray of light. Each conversation, a gesture of hope. Each day, another prayer, another stitch. And so, we mend our world.

Mighty blessings to you… and to the keepers in your Personal Village.

Pass It On!

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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.

Pass It On!

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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.

Pass It On!

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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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