There are times in our life when we need sanctuary.




From others and from ourselves.

We need sanctuary when we are hurt, when we are weak, when we are fallen, when we are grieving.

A closed place with an open-ended commitment to revelation and healing.

A walled garden where we can tear down our walls and let the light in so growth can begin again.


Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid’s Garden – John William Waterhouse

A place free of judgment, where fears can be shared without fear, where tears can flow without shame or embarrassment, where slings and arrows fly by harmlessly as we remove our bandages and open our wounds to the air.

One definition of sanctuary is: “a consecrated place where sacred objects are kept.” Consecrated means “solemnly dedicated to or set apart for a high purpose.”

The sacred object is the self.

The high purpose is restoration.

The hardest times in life are when the place that has been our sanctuary, the person whose embrace has sheltered us, no longer serves. These changes may be temporary or permanent, and at first, it can be hard to tell. Stress can render a person unable to provide what he once did, and calm has the potential to restore the ability to give. But people also change, or put another way, they crack, and we may discover when they hit their fault lines that they are not entirely who we believed and wanted them to be. And of course, death can take a person’s physical presence, though it cannot steal the sanctuary a special person gave us while here.

When you need your sanctuary, you will find it. Or it will find you, perhaps unexpectedly.

It can be frightening to enter at first. The self shrinks a little, as you are overcome with gratitude, as you feel the higher purpose taking over. And then you remember, “I have been here before.” You may not be in the same place, the same embrace, but yes, yes, you have been there before. The place on your map you can find with your eyes closed.

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About Thomas Fiffer

Thomas G. Fiffer is a graduate of Yale and holds an M.A. in creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He posts daily on his blog, Tom Aplomb, and serves as Ethics Editor at The Good Men Project and Editor of Westport HamletHub, a local online news and information service. In addition, he provides life coaching and motivational speaking, is a featured storyteller with MouseMuse Productions, and is working on his first novel.