Through a Jungian Lens

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Finding Sanctuary – A Place of Temenos

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There are only a few days left for my wife and I here in Costa Rica.  On Tuesday we fly back to Canada.  One of our frequent activities is to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.  It is a time of peace.  Having no church, no religious faith, moments such as these become a place of awe and wonder, a spiritual place.

Our days have taken on a pattern of sorts that we follow for the most part.  Up early, usually at 5:30 AM and enjoy a coffee while the sun rises from the hills behind this beach community.  With this morning ritual complete, I typically come here to finish up a post begun the previous day.  I like to have some time to let most of the post sit and settle within me so that I can ensure that this is really what I want to say.  Then I turn over the computer to my wife who often talks with grandchildren using Skype.

By nine, it is time for our long beach walk, a walk of about nine or ten kilometres.  Then it is back to the villa where I slip into a private walled area for some sunbathing.  The afternoon is spent catching up on reading, or surfing the Internet.  Currently I am reading a Dean Koontz novel called Velocity.  As you can tell, I am not all about Jungian psychology.  Yet even while reading novels I am sensitive to what can be found in these novels.  Below is an example of meaningful coincidence between my psychological readings and resonances in recreational reading.

“In another age, men on the eve of battle had gone to churches to prepare themselves spiritually, intellectually, emotionally.  To incense, to candlelight, to the humility that the shadow of the redeemer pressed upon them.

In those days, every church had been open all day and night, offering unconditional sanctuary.

Times had changed.  Now some churches might remain open around the clock, but many operated according to posted hours and locked their doors long before midnight.


Rather than travel from church to church, trying their doors and finding only sanctuary by prior appointment, Billy went where most modern men in need of a haven for contemplation were drawn in post-midnight hours:  to a truck stop.” (Koontz, Velocity, 2005, pp 341-342)

Spirituality, religion, sanctuary, the shadow – all these elements find their way into the novel.

So where do I find sanctuary?  For now, it is in the tiny private courtyard, a place of temenos, a sacred place that is honoured.  There, I return to ancient roots where man worshipped the sun.  There, the silence and the privacy is not much different than that found in the medieval monasteries, a silence and a privacy that is meditative.   As for religion, the closest I can come is through the journey of individuation, the journey of bringing a bit more light into the dark interior of my psyche.  Of course, it is there that I meet with shadow.  In the return home, most of the this doesn’t change for me – except for sanctuary.

That will be something that I will have to re-discover.  I only hope that it won’t be some late night truck stop.


8 Responses

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  1. I love reading your posts. Thanks you.

    abha iyengar

    April 2, 2010 at 6:47 am

    • You are very welcome, Abha. Thanks.

      Robert G. Longpré

      April 3, 2010 at 6:03 am

  2. This morning, early, as is my want, I arose and added another section to the story I am currently writing. It was about how the very first thing an abuse victim needs is a safe place. A sanctuary, whether that be in an actual geographic location, or in another person.

    Finished, I went to my email account, where the only correspondence was your current post, lol, all about finding sanctuary. But, it didn’t end there because you mentioned Dean Koontz. I have a collection of his books in my small library and every time I read one, I find something in it that pertains to me personally, something immediate.

    At the end of your post, you remark that you hope that you don’t have to find sanctuary in a truck stop. My father was a truck driver. Periodically, he would call at 5:30 in the morning and say, “Hey, I’m at the truck stop on I-94 and they have a pool table that no one is using.” I would sneak away from sleeping husband and children, and run toward my sanctuary, often beating him amidst raucous laughter and teasing.

    Thank you for this bit of synchronicity and those warm and delicious memories. My father passed away over twenty years ago and I still miss him.



    April 2, 2010 at 8:28 am

    • I love these incidents of happy coincidence or synchronocity.

      Robert G. Longpré

      April 3, 2010 at 6:03 am

  3. Thanks for this. The sanctuary we seek – I seek – is so rooted in the everyday its easy to overlook.

    OK you WERE in Costa Rica but the point stands.

    Beautiful experience that you are having. Thanks for sharing your reflections.



    April 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    • Sanctuary is rooted in so many simple things, in simple routines and in solitude as well as in the embrace of community.

      Robert G. Longpré

      April 3, 2010 at 6:04 am

  4. Very nice, Robert, and what a beautiful sanctuary you have had in Costa Rica. I, too, hope you can find it upon your return to your Canada, and at some place other than a truck-stop. 🙂

    As Abha said above, I, too, love reading your posts. Many thanks.


    April 6, 2010 at 8:37 am

    • I have little doubt that I will be able to find such a sanctuary. After all, the greatest sanctuary is that which is found “within.”

      Robert G. Longpré

      April 7, 2010 at 11:07 am

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