Sanctuary and Salvation

Again, my writing has taken me where I did not want to go. I fear we are all too bombarded by this theme, and I promise to leave it soon.

* * * * *

Home is my sanctuary. It’s where I feel safe, protected, loved. It’s where I am inspired—reborn. But seasonal depression traipses after me like a needy two-year-old, and demands constant vigilance. I know only one ‘cure’—to get Out, listen to bird trills, see the trees wave in the wind, smell the grasses and, when spring finally teases me, the flowers.

If Home is my sanctuary, Out is my salvation. But these days, Out is nearly my undoing. The intensity of it drains me. Out, I am a one-woman SWAT team, always on alert for snipers.

On a walking trail, I’m constantly checking all directions at once, zig-zagging to avoid fellow walkers who seem oblivious to the need for physical distance. Veering far off the path when I spy a jogger gaining on me or a gaggle of young roommates filling the pavement and headed my way. The responsibility for communal safety seems to be mine alone.

woman in face mask shopping in supermarket

Photo by Anna Shvets on

In a grocery store, I turn into a one-way aisle only to see someone coming toward me. I stop dead, then wheel my cart around and drive it over two more aisles, down then back up the one between, finally returning to my starting point—only to find someone else illegally coming at me.

When I near the end of an aisle, I pause, then slowly ease my cart into the intersection, anxious that someone may be about to ambush me. I am reminded of the way my nervous Mother used to creep around a blind curve on our mountain road at two miles an hour, madly honking the horn all the way.

Sometimes, another shopper turns in my direction when another is not far behind me. Trapped, I twist and flatten myself against shelves of canned goods like a squirrel plastered to the ground to avoid the predatory hawk. I dare not breathe until the danger has passed and the air might, just might, be slightly clearer than it was a few moments ago.

It is exhausting. I return home—to calm and solace, not knowing when the grayness will again swoop down and envelop me. But knowing it will. And, inevitably, the answer is Out.

I am intoxicated by the thought of Out—just the idea of taking trash to the dump excites me, even though Out is fraught with danger and the perception of danger. While governments ease restrictions, the modified protocols are for others. We elders—‘the vulnerables’—are still expected to stay home. When we do hazard to venture out, we will be at greater risk than ever.

He is okay with that. He says we are warriors. Ready for battle, ready to die for ‘the greater good’ as he thrusts us into the fray. Yes,” he acknowledges, people will die.

People like me.

That’s what warriors do. But how can I be a warrior? Warriors have weapons. I don’t.

She* sees today’s world differently. She encourages us to be meditative and connected—our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Reaching out to each other, not with hands, but with hearts—because our lives are in one another’s hands in ways they have never before been. Our physical distance demands our connectedness to be stronger than ever.

I can live with her take, considering this respite from normal as a sacred time in a sacred place, a time to step away from the chaos of the world and into personal commitment, a time to, as she says, “Reach out all the tendrils of compassion that move, invisibly, where we cannot touch.”

I might even be able to stay sane at home.

_ . _ . _ . _

*     She is poet Lynn Ungar. You can read the entirety of her touching poem here.


8 thoughts on “Sanctuary and Salvation

  1. you have described the situation so well. Here in Australia, it is the same, almost as though the attitude is ‘if you are worried about this, then YOU have to get out of my way’. Getting out is so important though – you need to see different horizons, go where different birds venture into the landscape than those around home. I have found timing to be the key, going out at a time when others are less likely to be around. Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My thoughts are haphazard, tangled, splashed across my brain …like a Jackson Pollock painting. When away from home and among people who seemingly have no knowledge of the pandemic, I feel enclosed, trapped, confined. Ironic…the word abstract means “to withdraw something from something else”. Abstract art is not an accurate representation of reality. Hmmm…how I feel when I’m in Walmart and no one seems to believe what is real. But when I’m home and in my sanctuary, I am renewed, refreshed, and my mind becomes uncluttered. And I wonder if life will ever be normal again.

    I laugh at your description of Aunt Pansy driving on a mountain road, “honking all the way.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I deal with a lot of these same issues when I go out. Whenever I take a hike, I feel like I’m playing a game of chicken with the other people on the trail, and I always lose. Other people do not seem to recognize the importance of personal space as much.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you again, Carole, for the words you always manage to put in just the right order. 💕 Meredith

    On Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 8:44 AM Living on the Diagonal wrote:

    > LivingOnTheDiagonal posted: “Again, my writing has taken me where I did > not want to go. I fear we are all too bombarded by this theme, and I > promise to leave it soon. * * * * * Home is my sanctuary. It’s where I feel > safe, protected, loved. It’s where I am inspired—reborn. But season” >

    Liked by 1 person

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