I remember back my freshman year of college, 20 years ago now — where has time gone, I was given a writing assignment which I had to write about my sanctuary. The professor told us our sanctuary could be a favorite spot, our safe spot or any location which brought us serenity. I can remember so vividly writing about my sanctuary, I remember identifing, describing it and longing to be back at that spot. The spot I identified 20 years ago as my sanctuary was a childhood location which was filled with memories. It was a spot where I would spend time with my parents and grandparents, fishing and enjoying each others company. Thinking back to this assignment I wish I would have identified another location as my sanctuary, a location which holds just as many memories (if not more), I spent most of my free time growing up there with family and friends. I guess 20 years ago I just didn’t realize how precious this location was to me and how much of a sanctuary it really was or would become to me.
The past few days I have not been able to clear my mind of this place, I have even dreamt of it. So, I figure writing and sharing about this place will help me stop thinking about it so much, even though I wonder why it is in my thoughts these days.
My sanctuary is a small white building in the country. It is not just any white building, it is a building my family (my uncle, grandpa and dad) came apon, rehabbed it back to life and spent many hours at for over thirty years. I can still remember watching members of my family hammering away, rebuilding the wooden stage area and picture so vividly the old piano, which was falling apart due to termites and other insect infestation, being removed to make room for a new one. This building would see many people come and go thru the thirty years, it heard many heartfelt cries, shared laughter and along the way saw many lives changed. The building isn’t as small anymore, it was renovated throughout the years, it even now has indoor bathrooms (I could tell you a few stories about having to use it’s outhouse – but will save that for later) and a kitchen ready to be used. The little white building was a place I could fully be me. I felt welcome to express myself to the fullest. This white building even saw me overcome my fear of people and overcome by shyness.
I know deep down the lessons on life I learned while sitting on the wooden benches and later the soft cushioned benches came from a source much greater than this little white building. A building is simply a building and is only as great as those who occupy it, in this case the building I am talking about is a house of God. My sanctuary in life is truly a living, breathing sanctuary. It is where I became a Christian, developed and grew as a Christian. My sanctuary is even where I met my husband! It is this small church next to a cemetery in Sanderson, Florida. I, to this day can still smell the inside of the sanctuary, I can feel the pews, the floor and the wood of the custom made pulpit, see the people and items which made up this church. This little church holds so many happy memories also holds bitter sweet and sad memories for me.
It has been a year and a half since I last stepped foot into my sanctuary, I have visited many other churches since my last song in that little church and yet I still struggle to find a place which allows me to feel free and welcomes me the way the little white church did. I know our time in this building is over and God is wanting us to move on to bigger and better things (maybe this is why this place hangs so strong on my mind the past few days) to serve Him in a different capacity and find new friends along the way!
While I sit here reminiscening (and crying) on my life and that small white church from my childhood and adulthood, I can’t help but realize how much I took this place and it’s people for granted all of my life. While it was always important to me and helped me become who I am today, I sure wish I would have not taken it for granted and would have embraced and loved it a little bit more.
My sanctuary is now occupied by new tenants. There is a new pastor and even new parishioners attending there now but I still dream of the time I was one of the members who sat on the third row on the right side of the church. I was the little girl learning the books of the Bible, memorizing Psalms 23, Psalms 100, John 3:16-17 (just for starters) and learning to sing the old hymns from the red Church Hymnal. I was the adult who worked with the youth, helped organize Women Conferences, sang praises to God and most importantly worshiped God. Now all I have left are memories which I hang on to tightly and am saddened that I won’t be able to raise my children in the little white church.
As I think back to my assignment I was given 20 years ago, I wonder why I didn’t say my sanctuary was, Cedar Creek Church. …….