Sanctuary For All Life - Faithful Friends - Article Series
From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“…I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will place them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.” (Ezekiel 37:26)

“A sanctuary is a holy place, a place hallowed to God, a place of safety and refuge. In these times of stress, of menace, and of danger, what is our sanctuary? Where can we find sanctuary?” These words were written by Chieko N. Okazaki, a Japanese holy lady. She goes on to write that WE need to be sanctuaries for one another – safe, secure docks of peace. She also writes that kindness, love, and service are the foundations of friendship (Okazaki, pp. 1, 9, 10). Long-term, faithful friends, especially, can feel a special happiness when they spend time together, knowing, for sure, that no harm, not even subtle hurt, will come to them as a consequence of being their true selves. They have what child psychologist Eric Ericson called “basic trust” in their faithful friend, which is a gut-level certainty that the friend has only sincere good will toward them.

I here propose that ALL living beings need places of sanctuary, places of peace where they can live their lives in their biological niches, safe from undue harm, suffering, and destruction. Moreover, I propose that WE HUMANS are the ones who need to provide sanctuaries for ourselves, for one another, for all animals of any description, and indeed, for the planet earth itself. WE HUMANS, THE SPECIES THAT IS OVERWHELMINGLY THE M0ST DESTRUCTIVE EVER CREATED, IS THE ONLY SPECIES THAT HAS THE BRAINS AND TECHNOLOGY TO PROVIDE SAFE LIVES FOR ALL OTHER EARTHLY LIFE FORMS, AND TO AID IN SAVING THE PLANET ITSELF, TO ALLOW IT TO CONTINUE BEING A BLOB OUT IN SPACE THAT CAN SUPPORT LIFE.

In his awesome book, Kinship With All Life, J. Allen Boone maintains that, “Men and women everywhere are being made acutely aware of the fact that something essential to life and well-being is flickering very low in the human species and threatening to go out entirely. This “something” has to do with such values as love…unselfishness…integrity…sincerity…loyalty to one’s best…honesty…enthusiasm…humility…goodness…happiness…fun. Practically every animal has these assets in abundance and is eager to share them, given opportunity and encouragement.” (Boone, p. 7).

We humans need to “get back to the basics” big time!! Remember what Jesus did when he was asked what is the meaning of “love thy neighbor as thyself?” He told the story of the good Samaritan, who noticed an injured man laying by the side of the road. The Samaritan provided sanctuary for the injured man, by paying for prompt care for him. He made sure the man would be safe. St. Francis wrote that not to cause our humble animal brothers pain is not enough. We should not stop there, but to also have the commitment to aid them in every way we can when they need it. “Render help and kindness wherever it is needed, to all life, great and small. Suffering has no boundaries, neither should compassion.” (author unknown.)

Not only is reliable sanctuary needed by all for physical needs, but human and animal spirits and souls need peace and safety, too. While there are species that naturally live solitary lives just fine, most everybody else needs to BELONG. An animal is at peace when it knows its place in the herd, or the pride, or the flock, or whatever type group is relevant. In his delightful, funny, and warm book Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me A Family Man, Brian McGrory grieves over Buddy’s death by pondering over the uproarious life they had with their extremely energetic and relatable pet rooster. His core insight as to what was important to Buddy was that, “All he ever wanted, all he ever asked for, was to be part of the group.” (McGrory, p. 320). Horse rescue people have shared that it is not enough to take care of the physical needs of abused, neglected, traumatized, starved horses. In order to begin to thrive, they need to know someone is there for them, with them, and to experience that person’s presence and care often and regularly. They need sanctuary – to learn to trust again, through kindness and the absence of pain, hurt, and anxiety. They need to be treated in ways that prove to them someone VALUES them.

My animal-loving friend, Dave, told me the cute story of his cat sanctuary, which is still ongoing. About three years ago, he noticed a cat huddled up against his building in winter, temperature about zero degrees. Dave fixed a protected warmer spot for the cat and decided to feed her. No way would the cat let Dave touch her! Well, time went by and eventually – which was very eventually – she allowed Dave to gently scratch her around her ears. This winter Dave decided to make her two heated enclosures, one on the front porch where she is fed, and one out back. She can be warm and dry, and can sleep comfortably and securely, no matter what the weather is doing. A couple of her cat friends started coming by, to spend time, and maybe eat a bit, too. What, to me, is so neat is that Dave provides sanctuary for the cat, and the cat provides sanctuary for Dave. Dave lives alone, and his wonderful, extremely loved dogs have passed on now. Dave does not want more dogs, because they restrict his going other places too much. So, the cat is the ideal situation for him! He has her for company and to be interested in and take care of. But, he can go other places as he wishes, knowing she will be just fine.

WHAT CAN WE DO? We can be watchful and aware! Whatever level of sanctuary providing we are operating at now, we can increase all possible, wherever possible. Do we happen to know an elderly person whose family and friends have passed on? Could we spend quality time with the person, letting him or her know we are not going to abandon? If we notice an animal wandering around where it shouldn’t be, we should take appropriate action, and either find its home, give it a home, or call the appropriate animal authorities for help. So many needs could crop up!

Indeed, as faithful friends, an integral part of the hours we live should be focused on “scoping out” needs for stewardship – providing sanctuaries for family, friends, and all the amazing, beautiful animals, who want their lives just like we want ours. Having our whole “being-ness” focused on providing sanctuaries gives us marvelous happiness and the deep feeling that our lives have important meaning and that we will not have lived in vain. Besides that, Jesus just loves such an attitude!!


  • Okazaki, Chieko N. Sanctuary. Deseret Book Company (Salt Lake City, Utah, 1997.
  • Boone J. Allen, Kinship With All Life. Harper & Row, Pub. (New York, 1954).
  • McGrogy, Brian. Buddy: How A Rooster Made Me A Family Man. Crown Publishing. (New York, 2012).

COPYRIGHT – 2017 - Dr. Joyce The Caring Heart

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