A winter virus gave me “a space”, Sanctuary, to read this book from beginning to end. Prior to this I had dipped in and out of it and had thoroughly enjoyed titbits and contemplating the photographs.
But this big book of 226 pages and 172 references is a rich, deep, satisfying and stimulating read. It was a decade in the writing and covers much of the author’s life experiences.
It is a well ordered book that circles from the first section: “Wondering about Sanctuary”, to “Illuminating Sanctuary”, to “Protecting Sanctuary” to “Wonderment of Sanctuary”.
I doubt there was a page in Julie’s book where I was not drawn in, encouraged to wonder, to absorb or marvel or question.
Her home on the Kapiti Coast is where my newly widowed mother sought sanctuary, in her new home and environment for the remaining 15 years of her life. The beach, the sea, the birds, the sky and the looming guardian of Kapiti Island are strong links to me and my understanding of this special environment.
The section of Julie’s book where she writes about a poetry course she ran for people suffering from the effects of stroke, Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease, I found particularly poignant. No matter our age or physical condition, our soul remains a sanctuary.
Not only did I find this immensely reassuring but also a wonderful example of compassion. To take time, to give careful attention to detail and to offer attentive presence, gave rise to illuminations from these peoples’ spirits.
The book is full of detail, research, images, references, journal entries, poetry, anecdotes, peoples’ thoughts and experiences. Julie’s writing skills are exemplified in her in-depth exploration of words, concepts, beliefs and experiences.
The thoughts and contributions of Julie’s friends and acquaintances sit easily among those of influential writers and thinkers across the ages. Sanctuary is not the domain of the highly trained, specialised or profoundly learned and wise; it is for every one of us as human beings.
Sanctuary (from the Latin “Sanctus” meaning Holy) can be found anywhere and in limitless ways. It is not limited or definitively prescribed. As the title “the discovery of wonder” indicates – discover what works for you, what gives you inner space. The cover of the book is a contemplation on this very issue.
I found this book to be one I want to own so that I can return to it again and again for my own personal and spiritual understanding and development.
Note: For an in depth review of Julie Leibrich’s book that I enjoyed reading go here:
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998. Published and reprinted by arrangement with Counterpoint Press.
Source: Collected Poems 1957-1982 (Counterpoint Press, 1985)
I followed the wise words of Wendell Berry and went to Pauatahanui today.
By the Inlet I found a Heron feeding….
And not a wood drake but a solitary Black Swan.
The Wild Things were calm and untaxed.
The water still and beautiful.
It was easy to breathe and calm and feel restored.
I’ve copied and pasted a comment by Russell Plume on Tuesday this week about his creative work piecing old weathered pieces of brick into quotations from Shakespeare and what may yet appear in a setting for all to enjoy.
Good morning Lynley,
The comments attached to your post are very touching. Thanks to you and to your readers.
I have three more settings that have yet to appear along the wall.
“There is a tide in the affairs of men” from Julius Caesar.
“Out damn’d spot, out I say!”. A desperately unhinged Lady MacBeth giving a gentle reminder to dog owners… .
“Ahakoa iti he pounamu”. A Māori proverb: “Although small it is precious” (another reference to Plimmerton…).
The complete collection is still a work in progress.
The ‘tide’ setting has a home which hasn’t been constructed yet. The other two are orphans.
Were you aware that “Brevity is the soul of wit” is above the surge wall 4 or 5 houses south of Queens Ave (down to the end, turn left)?
Thanks again for being so supportive.
However in my haste on the chilly beach earlier this week I missed this setting.
On a glorious summer’s day yesterday I took a photo to ensure a complete record from the beach front.
I also walked to the local amateur dramatic theatre nearby to record this quote.
I follow the Facebook page that Russell has set up here so I will post updates as new settings find a home. My blog statistics always lift dramatically when I post about these quotes by the sea. There is a real interest in them globally.
The towering American Agave that I have been watching as I drive past it as I leave and return to my home has altered quite suddenly.
I first noticed the change at its base over the weekend when the weather was too wet to stop and take a photograph.
The phrase from Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming” was instantly in my mind “the centre cannot hold”…..but from when I wonder? I wrestled with analysing this poem perhaps in High School or perhaps University but despite my poor memory about timing, the phrase was instantly there and it seemed so fitting to describe what I could see.
Its lengthy flower head has withstood a myriad of howling north westerly winds in this changeable and frustrating summer we are experiencing. Despite the force of the winds the flower head continues to move from yellow toning flowers high above to now more finger-like growths which I presume are the seed pods.
But today I have taken these photographs to show how “the centre cannot hold” for much longer. The once tough, rubbery, wide, strong leaves have softened and droop noticeably now.
Up close there is more evidence of its succulent heritage and there are places where the gelatinous contents within the leaves are becoming obvious.
The wind today was a brisk and chilly southerly so the Agave had more shelter but to muddle Yeats’s work further “things fall apart” and I think that has begun as nature takes its course.