Think about your favorite places to be. What makes them special to you? What feelings and experiences are associated with that place? Would others feel the same way about it?
The word sanctuary can have many different meanings, but somewhere along the line they all have to do with protection. There is the consecrated or holy area, usually around a church, tabernacle, or temple. There are land sanctuaries, usually called preserves or protected areas where the plants and animals are allowed to grow and live protected and uninhibited by man. There is the general usage meaning a place of safety, no matter where or what that place may be. No matter how you refer to the word sanctuary, you are referring to a place you or someone else feels safe and protected.
Every disciple needs to have at least one sanctuary among their favorite and most visited places. The trick is finding the one that means the most to you that offers the greatest sense of peace and the Lord’s loving guidance and protection. Where can the disciple turn when he is in need of sanctuary?
There are three obvious choices: house, church, and the LDS temple.
These three areas are all places where the God can be close to us while we’re still on earth. These places should bring peace, love, and joy to the disciple of Christ.
What makes homes, chapels and temples places Heavenly Father can send His spirit and presence?
No matter your religion, people invite Heavenly Father to be in houses and chapels with them. They invite His spirit. They read and discuss His words. They focus their thoughts and learning on becoming more like Him and to understanding His will and ways.
We feel temples are special because they require Heavenly Father’s children to be their best selves in order to enter; temples are literally houses of God on the earth. In the LDS temples, Heavenly Father invites you into His home. Just as you get ready for church or to go visit a neighbor, Heavenly Father asks you to get ready to come see Him. To enter His house you need to be living a good, clean life and following His commandments. That is why all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must interviewed by their religious leaders and receive a recommend to enter those sacred places. That is why the general public is kept out. It does and must remain the ultimate sanctuary for God’s children.
Keeping that in mind, it is also very reasonable to expect our homes and churches to carry that same level of reverence for sacred things. Homes and churches are where you practice and get ready to be as close to Heavenly Father as you can. These are the every day and always open sanctuaries. When you walk into your home can you feel God’s love for you? Do the members of your family feel safe, loved and supported within your walls? Even if not every member of your family believes as you, what can you as the disciple do to improve this atmosphere and open your home to more of the Lord’s spirit?
Think of the types of things you experience within your own church. What draws you there and what do you appreciate the most? Find ways to bring those aspects of your favorite place into your home and into your heart.
While these are some of the most concrete possibilities, there are also some transient places as well. The sanctuary we find in a physical place needs to leave there with us. We need to visit often enough that no matter when the need may arise the disciple can search within themselves and find that place of safety and reassurance, whether it be in our car, our bedroom, friends, cubicle, or a grove of trees. God is constantly reaching out to us offering sanctuary; we in turn need to reach out to Him.
Of knotted wood and lofted green
entered a boy of faith,
a prophet in embryo.
Therein was granted an
herald of peace
to echo through time’s
On the back of
a wooden chair
rest my forearms
and clasped hands.
My grove lies in
a quiet room with
Wherein I, too,
am grateful for
the power of prayer.
Christopher A. Woods, “The Sanctuary,” New Era, Apr 2001, 51