10 February, Monday – Seeking Sanctuary

10 February

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1 Kings 8:1-7,9-13
Solomon called the elders of Israel together in Jerusalem to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord up from the Citadel of David, which is Zion. All the men of Israel assembled round King Solomon in the month of Ethanim, at the time of the feast (that is, the seventh month), and the priests took up the ark and the Tent of Meeting with all the sacred vessels that were in it. In the presence of the ark, King Solomon and all Israel sacrificed sheep and oxen, countless, innumerable. The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the Debir of the Temple, that is, in the Holy of Holies, under the cherubs’ wings. For there where the ark was placed the cherubs spread out their wings and sheltered the ark and its shafts. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets Moses had placed in it at Horeb, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord had made with the Israelites when they came out of the land of Egypt; they are still there today.
Now when the priests came out of the sanctuary, the cloud filled the Temple of the Lord, and because of the cloud the priests could no longer perform their duties: the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s Temple.
Then Solomon said:
‘The Lord has chosen to dwell in the thick cloud.
Yes, I have built you a dwelling,
a place for you to live in for ever.’
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Mark 6:53-56
Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up. No sooner had they stepped out of the boat than people recognised him, and started hurrying all through the countryside and brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, to village, or town, or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched him were cured.

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 I have built you a dwelling…

I live with my mother and uncle in the house that I grew up in since my days in junior college (more than 35 years now). And while it extremely spacious and comfortable, it has, over the years, also provided a roof over the heads of relatives and friends who pass through our shores quite regularly.

According to a friend of mine who does life coaching, I am feeling unsettled because I don’t have a place I can truly call my own and am constantly in search of a sanctuary where I can find quiet time to reflect, pray and just retreat to. Up until recently, I entertained thoughts of moving to a smaller place so that I could design something to suit my needs.

Upon further reflection and, having had one or two sessions with my spiritual director, I have come to realise that perhaps I have been too selfish in wanting my own space, at the expense of the two octogenarians who share my dwelling place now. My other half also cautioned that putting them through a move so late in their lives may be a bit too tiring, and even distressing; after all, this place has been home to them since the mid 80s. Many milestones have come and gone and the house has hosted many amazing gatherings. However, in this season of my life, I prefer a quiet gathering of 4 to 6 close friends where we can talk and share deeply.

Looking around at all my other friends who have already established their homes (grown up kids and all), I have found myself wondering where I am going to eventually find my sanctuary. Granted, I have lived abroad twice and had my own spaces then, but the yearning for a place I can truly call my own is strong. Looking back, especially in 2016 when I walked part of the Camino, I believe that He is slowly pointing me to a space that I know He will provide for me. Whether it is a small, cosy apartment or something that can accomodate my mother and uncle, I truly don’t know. All I know for now is how I want to furnish it and what will inhabit the various living spaces. In the meantime, I continue to seek sanctuary in a relatively new home that has been so lovingly furnished and anointed by the presence of spiritual friends and counsellors. It is truly such a peace-filled and welcoming home which has hosted many hours of fun-filled meals and insightful conversations.

Brothers and sisters, if you have a dwelling place of your own, never take it for granted. For He has provided you a sanctuary to be away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday, and to rest in His presence. Keep it filled with His spirit and presence by cherishing every single moment with your spouse and family members under this roof.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Loving Father, we ask you to bless our dwelling places and be present in all our family gatherings, our family meals and especially while we are resting each night.

Thanksgiving: We thank you for providing us with a roof over our heads, and family to share it with. Amen.

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