Sanctuary of the Heart


Cooler weather, falling leaves, and the smell of cedar in the air remind us that the fall season has arrived. With it comes a time of holidays and family gatherings. Halloween decorations give way to red, green, and gold, reminding us that Thanksgiving and Christmas are only days away. Television stations have already begun their holiday movie lineup, and stores present displays of colorful decorations. Children become excited as the holiday time approaches while mom and dad pull out boxes that hold the decorations of the past, ready to dress the home for a new year. Everybody is excited with laughter and joyful expectations, well, almost everybody.

While the season brings joy to so many, there are some who will find this time of the year hard on the heart. Mixed with the joy of the season often comes the sadness of someone whose presence is missing. The laugh that permeated the home, the humming of a Christmas carol while cooking, the empty chair in the den, and one less plate at the table bring tears of sadness mixed with smiles of joy for the time of year. The holiday season is the most challenging time of the year for many who have lost the loves of their lives.

The season becomes a reminder that the people we lose never leave us. Billy Joel wrote a song entitled “And So It Goes.” The song is about a lost love; however, the opening phrase of the song reminds me of how we feel when there are loves of our lives lost through death or other actions that take them away from us. The song begins, “In every heart, there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong.” I read these words, and it tells me that there exists in our inner being, safely tucked away, a unique sanctuary of memories of those we have loved. 

Memories of those we have loved will never leave us, and while they may bring tears during the season, they should also bring smiles of cherished times together. The laughs, the humming of the carols, family around the table, and the empty chair remind us that people we lose may be out of sight but never out of our hearts. It’s perfectly okay to shed a tear, for they will always have a special place in the sanctuary of our hearts.

For those of us who notice those who hurt, I’d like to remind you of something I have encouraged you to do in the past. Don’t ask them if they are okay. Don’t tell them to cheer up. Don’t get mad at them if they leave the room in tears. The best thing you can do is go up and hug them, maybe kiss them on the cheek or sit next to them in silence. Remember, sometimes those who have lost just need to retreat to the sanctuary of their hearts for a visit with their memories.

Danny Minton is an Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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