A woman looks into the sunset, thinking about her Sanctuary.

Revisiting the Sanctuary

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  • Published on November 19, 2023
  • Last Updated February 15, 2024
  • In Guest Writers

Sanctuary is more than a safe place. Sanctuary is a state of mind that is allowed to flourish within yourself because of the safety and comfort you feel. Sanctuary depends on the people who are present and what they are surrounded by. For some, comfort means fishing with their grandfather on Lake Idlewild; safety means practicing Ashtanga yoga with the warm bodies of friends and strangers alike; or comfort means finding libraries that remind them of when their mother took them to Chicago’s Whitney Young Branch library on 79th Street as a child. 

Everyone has their own version of sanctuary, and each one of us learns more about ourselves and others when we share what those sanctuaries are. 

Detour publisher Ron Stodghill hosted a creative writing series called Sanctuary that invited Black writers to share stories about their favorite places in the world. The common theme of each of these places? There is an element of nostalgia and finding a home away from home: traveling to Rome with your mother, and learning of your father’s collegiate activism from your mother for the first time during Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica; visiting New York City’s Woodland Cemetery and, while surrounded by gravestones, sharing a love for music with the final resting places of great jazz musicians; going down memory lane as you remember how you and a friend discovered an arch-bridge in your hometown of New Orleans; or literally rewatching memories of how the Baker’s Keyboard Lounge shaped who you are as a musician today.  

The series was published on DETOUR’s website to encourage readers to think about their own safe places. Hopefully this will be especially helpful as many will be heading home for the holiday and having more than just turkey and stuffing for dinner. As many travel home for Thanksgiving, or just to visit family, it’s important to not only dread the tense debates between uncles and aunts and cousins while breaking break together. Consider what makes home a home to you, or of what your personal sanctuary is. Where can you get away from the home crowd for a second think on your own?

People want to have places just for themselves, places where they can be released from social responsibilities and social roles. There needs be a place where one can simply live and breathe. These Black creators share what their sanctuaries are in order to bond and inspire others to do the same, or even to realize a sanctuary for themselves. Whether it is a sanctuary that reminds you of home, of your passions in life, or of your family, it is a place worth knowing and worth sharing.

Read our ongoing Sanctuary Series any time you’d like, even as an excuse to get away from certain friends or family this holiday. Share your own sanctuary on our social media pages or by submitting your own story.

The series can also be found at any time across publications such as The Charlotte Observer and the Miami Herald and features writers such as DETOUR’s Ron Stodghill, POLITCIO Magazine Editor Teresa Wiltz, WBEZ’s Natalie Moore, Washington & Lee University’s Provost Dr. Lena Hill, Lehman College’s Professor James Anderson, and DETOUR authors Myles Poydras, Skip Pruitt and more. 


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Campbell Hamai is a journalist and associate producer with Detour through the Meredith-McClatchy Scholarship sponsored by the University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri. She is passionate about elevating the work and voices of POC authors and creators. Hamai can be reached through email at campbellhamai@detourxp.com.