"In the latter years of her life, in the backyard of her home in northern Florida, my grandmother had a porch swing. She liked to sit and swing and hum old church hymns such as 'Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.' I can still see her there, wearing a white scarf over her head, a concession to chemotherapy's unrelenting march. When as a young adult I visited her, she would always ask me to sit with her on the swing for a spell. She would pat my leg and call me 'darlin'.'
"As long as my grandmother lived — and in spite of her pain — there was always a place for me on the swing. If I were asked to explain grace, I would paint the picture of my grandmother's swing. There, I never had to deliberate or explain or worry, regardless of the weight I carried. The porch swing — my grandmother's presence — bestowed grace without conditions.
"And I am here today because of that porch swing. I am here today because of a sanctuary.
"Everyone has a sanctuary, if only in the mind. Even if we can't say what it is, we know of its power. It is a place where we feel grounded, unhurried, and renewed. We go there whenever we can, which never seems often enough. Or that's what we tell ourselves.
"A sanctuary is a place that restores us, replenishes us, nourishes us. In this renewal, we are reminded, once again, of what really is important.
"We are wired to need grounding and renewal. Yes, I believe it's in our emotional DNA. So you'd think creating sanctuary would be at the top of our priorities. But there's the sticky wicket. We end up making choices — with our time and with our days — that are detrimental to our emotional and spiritual well-being.
"If I had my druthers, I'd put my pen down (yes, I still write with a fountain pen) and invite you to take a walk with me. We're not going far. Off to the side of my garden and tucked under a maple tree is a swing. It's for cogitating and sitting for a spell.
"I can tell the weeks when I do not get my recommended dose of sanctuary — or in my case, garden time. And I can tell when I do take my sanctuary time because it restores me; it's a dose of grace mainlined straight to the heart."