I am sitting beside a pool at a southern resort. Surrounding me are the sounds of children’s voices, country music, quiet ripples, and the more insistent splashing of water. I am in sanctuary. The children’s voices, country music, and splashing of water do not distract and the ripples serve as a soft accompaniment to my meditation. Sanctuary is a place I seek more often as I age. Sanctuary is a space that, in my opinion, is a right of all gifted elders.
Sanctuary most often connotes a sheltered, protected place. In my mind it is not necessarily a physical place, rather it is the placid inner space in which we rearrange the furniture of our mind in such a way that we create harmony and quietude. Terry Hershey, in his book, Sanctuary: Creating a Space for Grace in Your Life, wrote that finding sanctuary is intentional. It is a time when we search for the sacred in the ordinary; in Hershey’ words, “refilling of the chalice of being with spirit.”
The lives of gifted elders are often filled with the directives of others, telling us to eat well, to take it easy, not to worry. In addition, for some gifted elders as they age, cognitive changes may cause anxiety as they struggle to maintain an optimum level of functioning. Constant noise in the residential care environment also contributes to difficulty in finding one’s healing balance. These factors and others highlight the need for gifted elders to find the restorative benefits that sanctuary offers.
Where do I find sanctuary as a gifted elder? First and foremost I find any natural setting allows me to quiet my mind, gather my thoughts, and engage in soul care. There are several favorite spots for my reverie, our front porch or a deck overlooking water, a bench in a clearing in our local arboretum, or walking along a beach. I am sure that you, my reader, can add other perfect spaces to the list.
However, even when I have no access to the natural world, sanctuary is an intentional choice I find I need to make often, and more so as I age. It is there that I can sort out the realities of aging and process the losses of friends and family as well as the physical and mental losses that aging brings. In sanctuary I can learn to accept the “never-agains” along with the gifts of elderhood. I make peace with myself and with the world.
Where do you find Sanctuary?