Sanctuary comes in many different forms: as a retreat–a place one goes for guidance and inspiration; as a house of worship–a place to seek spiritual healing and nourishment; and as a refuge–a place to escape misuse or abuse. Within 24 hours, Leah and I managed to come across all three in a small corner of mid-western America.

For those searching for faith-based education, Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK has a campus fingerprint: Make No Little Plans Here

Make No Little Plans Here

The university’s holistic approach feeds the spirit, mind, and body.


The university’s futuristic and mid-century modern architecture attributed to Frank Wallace is best appreciated from the flying saucer,

prayer tower

that also passes for an observation deck,

ORU observation deck

and reflection gallery.

OR advice

It’s gold-tinted, anti-glare windows colorize the outward views in a peculiar warm bath of Genesis green.

classroom tower

classroom building


campus green

And while folded hands may symbolize a deep connection between God and Christianity,

hands of God

…any university coed would easily characterize the statue as a student praying to pass.

Architecture on a higher plane/plain can be found nearby, in the hills of the Ozarks. While no less spiritual in nature, the Thorncrown Chapel is rooted in nature.


An elaborate composition of wooden trusses embracing 425 windows gives an ethereal nod to a scripture and proverb mash-up of not casting the first stone in glass houses.

From the hillside, the chapel seemingly disappears among the flora,


and when juxtaposed to the outdoors, the chapel’s transparency is flaunted by its six thousand square feet of glass.

looking outside in

However, the chapel’s connection to nature shines brighter from within the polished maplewood doors,


where an arboretum of beams reaching forty-eight feet to the clouds…

inside out1

can be contemplated and photographed from a distant pew. (Photography is allowed, but only from a sitting position.)

pews and lights

But Thorncrown Chapel is more than a beautiful building. It’s a celebration of Jim Reed’s spirit and vision, and a noble tribute to the glory of his resignation to a higher power.

Lastly, eleven miles south, on the edge of Eureka Springs, AK, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge provides shelter and care to abandoned, abused, and neglected wildcats, whose owners have miscalculated the cost and trouble of raising and breeding them in captivity.


Currently, Turpentine Creek has become a haven to 100 lions, tigers, ligers, and cougars like Nala and Brody.

Natural habitats built with benefactor dollars provide asylum to big cats,

2 tiger habitat

who are now free to live out their lives in a protected environment,

2 tigers

while being offered preventative and emergency medical treatment.

tiger repose

These cats cannot be released into the wild,

tiger habitat

as they’ve lost their ability to fend and defend after being declawed by their owners,

cougar gnawing on cardboard tubing

who in their ignorance and arrogance wished to make them less dangerous to handle as one-time pets.

white tiger

Nevertheless, a cadre of volunteers assists a small staff in feeding, cleaning, examining, and behavior-modifying these beasts. Thus, providing each big cat with a humane existence.

Day-to-day operations are assisted through visitor admissions, gift shop sales, and donations by large corporations like Tyson, who feeds the herd 300,000 lbs. of chicken every year.

Sanctuaries of thought, redemption, and protection offer safe places to learn, to reflect, and retire to. Remove anyone of them, and society faces a danger of turning in on itself, further sewing the sleeves of divisiveness.

Better still, offering asylum to the millions of struggling homeless across the country, and persecuted refugees around the world would improve their safety and dignity, and allow more of humanity to participate in their own recovery.

One thought on “Sanctuary

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