Sanctuaries – #WhatsYourPeace?

September 21, 2015

If the ‘Top Picks’ tables at large bookstores are any indication, finding one’s purpose in Washington, DC tends to be a solitary endeavor. There is no shortage of resources to help individuals explore their strengths and vulnerabilities, and arrive at deeper levels of understanding and peace with life… alone. At the Sanctuaries (a multi-faith arts community in DC), introspection and peace with oneself are highly valued. But at the same time, the Sanctuaries takes the search for life’s purpose a step further. The community creates a space for people to delve into these questions, together. In so doing, the community creates a solid foundation for both inner and outer peace.

The Sanctuaries ushered in the start of summer with a retreat named ‘Purpose.’ The several dozen participants were invited to, sometimes in groups and sometimes in silence, explore their hopes, dreams, and— crucially— their fears. At one point, we were asked to write our fears on small Post-it notes, and paste them (anonymously) on a large swath of empty wall space. We created a mosaic of difficult-to-share thoughts. We then formed a line and walked, at our own pace, past the notes. Fear of being alone… fear of being misunderstood… fear of being abused… fear of being forgotten… some messages repeated themselves many times over. In naming our vulnerabilities, and the dangers in our lives, we moved towards a collective purpose. The purpose of the community as a whole— to provide a safe space for people to express their fears and empathize with each other, and find peace across divisions— became our own.

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