Sanctuaries of Peace

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”   Isaiah 55:12

Today is the second Sunday of Advent and the theme for this particular Sunday is peace.   Peace, though greatly desired by most people, can be hard to find these days.  It definitely seems to be in short supply.  Nations do battle with one another.  Arguments rage in the halls of Congress.  There is ongoing conflict in most homes and places of business.  I suspect that in the end all of this is symptomatic of the lack of peace that resides inside our own hearts.  Today we remember the coming of the Prince of Peace but at the same time cannot help but lament the lack of peace evident in the world and in our own lives.

One of the things I have come to realize is that I need peaceful refuges or sanctuaries in order to maintain what peace I do have.  This morning I went to church early and after turning the lights of our Chrismon Tree and Christmas wreaths on I simply sat and soaked in the sense of peace that pervaded the place.  I have in my home a study which is also for me a peaceful sanctuary.  There I am surrounded by my books and can find a variety of music to listen to that contribute to my peace of mind and soul.

I spent a couple of days in southern Florida with Rob this past week and while there I had a chance to take some walks in swamps and hammocks.  It always amazes me how God’s Creation generates feelings of peace and tranquility within me.  Yes, even in swampy areas filled with spiders and snakes and alligators I felt a peace I do not find in the normal hustle and bustle of life. The places Rob took me were all near populated and/or commercial areas.  Not far away thousands of cars were making their way here or there, but in these pockets of wildness I found sanctuaries of peace and a sense of the presence of God.

I am thankful that no matter where you live nearby there is likely to be a natural sanctuary of peace.  Due to crime most churches are not able to keep their doors unlocked at all times.  For that reason few people have the option I do of going into a church sanctuary anytime they want and spending peaceful moments there alone.  But in nature we can find a place of peaceful refuge twenty-four hours a day.  I realize that some parks also have locks but there are always pockets of wildness waiting to be made into sanctuaries of peace.  I cannot help but believe that the God who first made Himself known to others in a garden still waits in a variety of gardens and natural habitats to make Himself known.  And when we give God that opportunity the peace we so urgently need is usually found as well.  Where do you find your own sanctuaries of peace?  Have you been there lately?


(I took the images above near West Palm Beach, Florida, this past Thursday and Friday.)