Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Sanctuary

This week, guest challenger, Xenia who blogs at Tranature and Whippet Wisdom, asks us to consider the term “sanctuary” and what it means to us. You can read Xenia’s entire challenge post here.

I find a personal sanctuary in a shady spot along a trail while hiking in the Arizona desert or on a bench in a North Carolina botanical garden. Some might find their sanctuary in a special place on a mountain. Many people find their personal sanctuary in their church, and I find church architecture to be a spectacular subject for photography. Indeed, my opening photo is of a magnificent cathedral in Cartagena, Colombia, the Iglesia de Santo Toribio.

North of Phoenix near Anthem there is a trail leading into Black Canyon. It’s a beautiful walk down the Black Canyon City trail to a large, shady outcropping of rock next to Slate Creek. On a warm day, that shade is a welcome destination. As a bonus, at the end of the hike, one can take sanctuary at the nearby Rock Springs Cafe for a piece of one of their famous pies.

A walk through the park can put you in a different world for a time. Amidst the tall trees in the North Carolina Botanical Garden, specific garden displays vie for your attention and consideration. One area I found especially interesting features a collection of carnivorous plants, but the normal collection of flowers native to the area is a prime attraction.

On the grounds of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, the Linnean House is the oldest public greenhouse west of the Mississippi River and has been in continuous operation since 1882. Originally, the greenhouse provided a winter sanctuary to potted tropical plants such as orange and palm trees that adorned the gardens in the summer. These days the building serves several functions. On the day of our visit, it featured a collection of southwestern desert plants.

Near the top of Lama Mountain outside of Taos, New Mexico, I was introduced to the concept of a dargah. It’s all very complicated but to make it easy, my great-nephew, Beau Gano, was one of the construction managers in the building of this revered place of rest for Murshid Samuel Lewis, a Saint in the Sufi sect. A small village of the faithful followers of Murshid SAM has the honor of caring for his remains. We visited the dargah just after its completion. The final landscaping would wait until the weather warmed up in the spring. Now that the project is completed, I am sure that members of the community find the dargah a sanctuary from the hot New Mexico sun on summer days.

My last photo submission for this week’s challenge is of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Near downtown Sioux Falls, this beautiful cathedral became the home church of the Diocese of Sioux Falls. Completed in 1917 on the site that originally held the Church of St Michael, the cathedral continues to be home for the Catholic faithful of eastern South Dakota.

Thanks to Xenia for a great challenge topic this week. I have already enjoyed reading the posts of those who have already submitted challenge responses. As we move into yet another month during this troubled year, I know many are finding personal sanctuaries that are a place of rest and restoration, both spiritual and physical.

John Steiner



17 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Sanctuary

  1. Beautiful photographs and such a wonderful variety of sanctuaries John! The shade from a rock on a hot day, the different world offered by a park, the magnificent Iglesia de Santo Toribio and the newly constructed dargah seem especially peaceful. Thank you so much for sharing these and for this lovely contribution to the challenge 🙂

    • Thank you for the nice compliment, friend. At one time I thought I’d like to go that direction, but decided it would be too much “business” and not enough “photography”. >grin<

  2. Count me in for the pie John, even if I must hike to it 😂. Beautiful sanctuaries throughout your post my friend altho of course I am more drawn to the wonders of your natural settings

  3. Wonderful post, John. I love your church image and the trail in AZ looks wonderful. I hope we can hike there the next time we’re in AZ. I share your thoughts about finding various personal. sanctuaries in troubled times. They are so needed!

    • And when you do, be sure to stop at the cafe for some pie. They are quite well-known. Last Thanksgiving, prior to the holiday, they sold over 10,000 pies for people to enjoy during their holiday meals.

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