Morning Shelter: Offering Sanctuary

The sanctuary of this oak provides me with shelter. What trees provide you with shelter?

I picture you sneaking away from the crowd to read on your phone.

Or turning your head from the news to read on your iPad.

Or maybe this post is with you on vacation, sitting on your parent’s back porch, taking your coffee alone.

I aim to provide you with a bit of shelter, like this massive oak I spent time under yesterday.


“When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locusts,

equally the beech, the oaks and pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.”

-Mary Oliver

Thirst Beacon Press 2006


We’ve all been thinking about what saves us these days. In the heat of the Northeast, shade. In the heart-breaking news of our nation’s immigration policies, separating families at our borders and how the entire debacle is being handled…where do we find shelter? How can we make a difference?

What can you shelter, in the eddy of this moment, this small moment reading on the 4th of July?

Starhawk, an ecofeminist, is proposing a ritual for today. I met her 2 years ago and wrote about it here. She offers a new ritual for this time, simple and easy. You can read all about it here. This ritual is meant to bless the struggling United States. Yes, even today, I am writing about how we can, together, gather our resources for good.

What I see at the heart of Starhawk’s suggestions, seconded by my friend Mama Gena of the School of the Womanly Arts, is to embody the change we want to see in the world, to provide sanctuary, even today.

If your sorrow about those children separated by their families at our borders, who arrive seeking refuge only to find themselves inexplicably torn from each other–if that sorrow is stopping you, I urge you to take some action. Here is a great list of resources for ways to help beyond giving money.

Offer shelter.

First, to your self.

Notice what it means to hold your people today.

Then take an action towards another in need.

Sing with your people today.

Starhawk urges us to sing “God Bless America,” and ring bells.

Send prayers for this land we love that we may all stand beside her, this land, and let love guide our every step. I have heard from readers in other countries, sending love and concern. Sanctuary and shelter is an issue all over the world.

If you let yourself make a small ritual today, I assure you, your energy will add to a global blessing.

This ritual will be present in my workshop for the International Women’s Writing Guild at Muhlenberg College next week.

I believe we must weave ourselves together in a human chain around the world to stand in the way of the ejection and rejection of those needing sanctuary, needing home. To insist on the opening of borders. It is imperative that we recognize and act on our connectedness, our responsibility to one another as human beings in a time of historic worldwide turmoil and uprooting.

-Kathy Engel, Founding Director of MADRE

I too believe that we must weave ourselves together, to the people we are already linked to by family ties, and to those who are being set adrift around the world. The ache seems gigantic. And if we take one action a day, to sing, to reach out to someone in need right beyond our own personal borders, this activity of love will roll towards others in need of shelter.


Simply reading about it is one thing. You just gave yourself a break. You took shelter under my oak.

Now, go be that oak for someone else.

Ever, in sanctuary and love,















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Showing 9 comments
  • Linda

    Sanctuary. Shelter. What beautiful words on this July 4th. Too many days are filled with chaos and uncertainty. Thank you for reminding me that positive actions can be simple. A ritual for sanctuary and shelter is my commitment for today. xxoo

    • Suzi

      Thank you dear Linda! Sending you and Willow love today. xoS

  • Anne-Marie Oomen

    Thank you. Today, a group of us gather outside our village post office to read aloud by turns the Declaration of independence. The words are haunting today, familiar and strange in this new context, but a reminder of what was once a purer endeavor and could be again.

    • Suzi

      Oh Anne-Marie, this is good. I picture HWS with you? Shakespeare & Co does that also, which we’ve attended a few times. Resonant words today, yes, I agree. Much love and happy paddling to you! xoS

  • Peggy

    Sanctuary and shelter are two such powerful words, ripe and rich with meaning. Fundamental. Elemental.

    I am spending this fourth of July (my son’s birthday – this year with him on the other side of the continent, the first birthday we have been apart) on the sublimely peaceful west coast of British Columbia, gratefully entering the sanctuary of self care and sheltering reprieve from the blistering news of each day and loud intrusion of neighborhood fireworks during these few nights.

    To turn all this into a prayer to send back out to the world is a lovely notion, Suzi. Thank you for your words.

    • Suzi

      Thank you for writing Peggy. I am glad you are in a cool refuge today, especially on your son’s birthday. In the face of these times, I believe it is necessary to speak up and to hold for the qualities we want to see. Not everyone agrees with me, which is wholly normal. But it is also deeply encouraging to know when something touches another with meaning. Much love, S

  • Baum Susanna

    Then there is this from Sara Nolan. A successful fundraise to help a Guatemalan woman, Yeni Gonzalez be reunited with her three children.

  • Barb

    Love you, Suzi. Your words are a balm for my soul on this day when I feel so conflicted… Not proud to be an American under the policies that have been enacted wholly without the consent of the vast majority of it’s citizens, but also oddly proud that we can gather (as many of us did across the nation this past weekend) to come together and rally against what we believe is NOT representative of what makes this country truly great. In all of what is wrong, there is still so much that is right. XO

  • Suzi

    Oh I agree Barb. So many people are torn up by not knowing what to do. I know that the way you live and what you lead with, standing for families as they become families, carries your love and presence in to the world. Thank you for this! Much love, S