In my tiny little town are many magnificent churches like you’d find in a bigger city. Looking at them, a person can understand the vast and optimistic vision of those early settlers.
I’ve only been to one, St. Stephens the Martyr, Episcopal Church and beloved sanctuary of my friend, Elizabeth. It’s not a magnificent church. It’s a tiny chapel, built by some English settlers, to look exactly like their chapel at home. Early photos of it show a little English church surrounded by chamisa flats and the big empty. They are heart-rending.
I don’t really need a sanctuary any more, but I did for years and years and years and years. It was always out in the woods or hills, under the open sky. I found it when I was eight years old or so and we lived across the street from a forest. The forest was part of the mission of the Columban Fathers, but that was irrelevant to me. I didn’t even know who they were until I read How the Irish Saved Civilization. The forest was part of the deciduous woods that line the Missouri River. We called our woods “the Mission.” From time to time we saw a monk wandering between the trees, carrying a Bible or a missal.
After six years, we moved back to Colorado and I had to find a new sanctuary. Things in the famdamily had gotten to the point where sometimes I needed to run away. Lucky for me, we lived near a place now formally named “Palmer Park” but known by savants as “the bluffs.” In the bluffs, I found my tree, about which I’ve written many, many times.
But NOW everything is my sanctuary.