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  • Angela O'Brien-Greywitt

Sanctuary and Holding Sacred Space



Sanctuary is a beautiful word that sings to me in many ways. It is a place of refuge. I grew up in a somewhat chaotic household. There were twelve children and not enough space in the house to comfortably accommodate all. There was never a place to just be free for a moment from all the people, the clutter and the noise.


I have come to crave stillness and quiet. A place to breathe, rest, and be myself. I love the smells of essential oils and incense and the peace found when I walk into a yoga studio. My home is my version of a living space that evokes the feeling of a yoga studio and is surrounded by a beautiful yard and garden. There is a large kitchen to prepare and share nourishing meals, bedrooms to rest in, and spaces to gather.


I wanted to make our home a place where we are able to share time with people we love, a cup of tea or coffee, a glass of wine, enjoy a walk in the garden or share a meaningful conversation at the kitchen table, on the porch or in the garden. I wanted our home to be a place of respite where you could speak freely and be heard. A place to play, dance, listen to music and explore in the garden and woods. A sacred space to live and blossom.


I am extremely grateful to have a home that offers sanctuary to my family and friends. An oasis where all who enter can be sheltered, safe, secure and truly loved in a calm, clean, uncluttered space that is well maintained. My husband is a man with many talents. He can fix and build anything. He has been an integral part of having a well maintained home where everything is kept in working order and beautifully cared for. We have learned over the years to work together as true partners in all that we do for each other and others.


We are learning to let go of all of the stuff in our home and in our minds that clutter. Letting go of stuff that no longer serves has become an artform. If the items in your home do not bring joy, have a purpose, have a place to be stored, it may be time to be recycled or repurposed. Everything holds energy. If your eyes, body and mind can't rest in your home it may be time to clear your space.

As a child I dreamt of such a place. I wanted to have a home that was a sanctuary for all. Where there was enough space for my large family to gather and have a place at the table. They were welcome to stay overnight if need be. When you make your home into a sanctuary it is a wonderful gift to yourself and all who enter your personal space. You feel at home and so do your guests. A place where you always feel home and welcomed.


Another kind of sanctuary is the art of holding sacred space. When you hold sacred space for someone it means you listen deeply while they speak and you are totally present for them. You do not need to fix anything. You do not need to give advice or interrupt. Just listen. Take the time to look into their eyes, close your mouth, open your heart and truly listen to them share their story. You honor them by being a sanctuary for them. After all, you already know what you know so when you truly listen you may learn something new.


My garden is an essential element to my sacred living space and sanctuary. It is a place where I can observe life in many ways and where I witness the cycle of life. A place where I feel nourished, joyful and deeply connected to nature and myself. All of my senses are heightened in the garden. I can breathe, listen to the birds, animals, insects and feel the connection and oneness to the universe. I see, touch, and feel the magnificence of the earth beneath my feet and in my hands. When I place my hands in the dark, rich, soil and plant seeds it is a lesson in faith and letting go of the outcome and the knowing that the unseen mystery of life takes care of the details. Being in the garden has become a walking, working, playing meditation for my life.


When I walk into the garden I can lose track of time. I walk the semi circular path within my garden with no agenda. Just to notice and admire the beauty and wonder that surrounds me. I bend down to pull a few weeds. I envision different colors of flowers that might look and work well in different spots. I emerge hours later, dirt under my fingernails and on my clothes. I may be a wee bit sweaty, my body feels a beautiful ache and satisfaction that comes from laboring in the garden. A genuine joy that starts in my heart and soul and shines out my face. Once again I have been transformed and filled with peace. The weeds in the garden are gone and the possible weeds of thought ruminating in my head are also gone. It is truly magical.


I have experienced profound grief in my lifetime. The garden has transformed that grief into a beautiful sacred space and place of reverence. I honor all I have lost in some small measure in my garden with a few memorial angels, birdhouses, a fountain and many plants. A sanctuary I share with all of the creatures great and small who visit the garden or inhabit this sacred ground.


We are connected to all of the elements of the earth and I hold mother earth in high regard. I am filled with gratitude at her generosity, wisdom, and healing powers. I honor all I have learned about life and death in the garden. Everything is sacred. Take the time to make your inside and outside living space a sanctuary. Your home is your refuge.


"All my hurts my garden spade can heal." Ralph Waldo Emerson



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