Over the holiday weekend, a friend in her 20’s was our house-guest. Saturday we took her out to grab Mexican food. Over dinner, she thanked us for our hospitality and the place to stay.

We shrugged it off, and apologized that we are so boring. I spend a lot of time working in the yard, and we generally get ready for bed around 10. What spare time we have is often spent reading or listening to music. It’s a lot of things, but exciting probably isn’t one of them, especially if you are 23 and single.

She said that no, she loved staying with us, that the rhythm of our lives made it feel like a sanctuary from the world.

More than seven years ago, our friend Ashley officiated our wedding, and in preparation, asked us to describe what we wanted our future home to be like. We had lots of ideas, but the one word we both used was sanctuary.

When I first began doing this work, my friend and mentor Bart Campolo told me that if I intended to devote my life to serving in the midst of chaos, I needed to have a place I could retreat to that wasn’t in chaos. I needed to have a place to go, to remind myself who I am.

Our house isn’t much. It is small, and has one tiny bathroom, and an occasionally leaky roof. The floor squeaks, and the back yard has horrible drainage and is in too much shade. The hub for Raleigh’s gang activity is less than 2 blocks from our home, and gunfire isn’t unheard of. It is not a perfect place. But it is our place – our sanctuary.

I’m grateful for this house, for the flowers and the trees and the cats and the chickens, and especially for Renee, all parts of the total that combine to make sanctuary for me, and that remind me constantly who I am.

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