Throwback Thursday – “The Making of a Sanctuary”

Artist Credit: Abigail Gray Swartz

This week’s Throwback Thursday is from our 2007 Newsletter. It’s written by PLAN’s co-founder Vickie Cammack, who was working as the Executive Director of Plan Institute at the time.

In “The Making of a Sanctuary”, Vickie shares her perspective of what makes a home. It’s not just a space we live in – “it’s a space that breathes and nourishes us.”  At PLAN, we believe having a place that feels like home is something everyone deserves. It’s an important part of living a good life.

The Making of a Sanctuary

For one glorious summer in the 70’s an old, tamarisk tree with wide branches sweeping down to the sand of a Greek beach, was my home. Its branches opened like welcoming arms to form my front door. When friends came to call they knew I was home if they saw my sandals carefully set to one side. Inside there was a special crook in one branch that held my cup and toothbrush and plenty of twigs to drape my scarves on. My tree gentled the sun’s rays by day and let the stars peek through at night.

I felt safe and sheltered by this kind tree. My tree space felt lived in, by me, by others before me and of course by various wildlife who shared it with me. It was definitely the place that felt the most like home during that sun kissed summer. On the other hand, one of our treasured family stories is the account of my mother, who upon reading a letter containing my starry eyed account of my life in Greece, burst into tears and wailed, “She’s living in a tree. A tree!” For her, my breezy home was not and never would be a home.

That’s the thing about a home. It is a very personal feeling. Not so much a place as a space. It is a space that breathes
and nourishes us. A space becomes a home when it opens to us as we are, and when we, in turn, get worn into it. Creating this kind of ‘home space’ when a person is vulnerable or isolated is complex. As families we are often caught in the paradoxical challenge of finding spaces that both open doors and secure locks. This is why cultivating and consulting caring connections beyond us is so important for our relative. Standing together, we can peek out, open the curtains of our own comfort zones and imagine the living, breathing spaces our loved ones can grow their way into. And out of. Just as no tree lives for forever, no home, no matter how well planned, financed and built, is ever permanent. True durability lies in the long arms of others who will care for our relative beyond our lifetime. It is embrace that will  nourish and honour our loved one’s spirit wherever they may live.