There is a sacred place known as a sanctuarium which has no fixed physical location. It is a temporal
refuge where we can gain immunity from the chaos of the modern world. It is a protected zone where
both humans and nature can co-exist. It is a safe haven where we can reflect, contemplate, or pray in
peaceful seclusion. Now imagine discovering such a powerful place deep within yourself.
As the world around us appears to hurtle out of control, we struggle to keep up. In order to increase our
speed, we jettison everything that might slow us down. We sever our connections to those with whom
we share the planet in the mistaken belief that we can somehow get by without them. Along the way,
we forget how everything has always been interconnected.
To discover our own sanctuarium, we have to find a way to slow the world. We need to put out our
hands and bring our lives – if only for a moment – to a stop. By grabbing hold of what we truly value, we
can keep that which has meaning from slipping through our fingers. We must then repeat this process as
often as we can.
Make something by hand
The simplest way to create a connection is to make something by hand. Find a craftsman, an artist, or
anyone who knows how to use their hands. Befriend a carpenter who can teach you to shape wood.
Study under a potter who understands the mystery of clay. Become a weaver’s apprentice to weave
meaning back into your life. Meet a monk who will show your hands how to pray. Ask your grandmother
to invite you into her kitchen. Get a neighbor to show you how her garden grows. Touch the world.
The people who understand how our hands can work these wonderful changes are dying off. As their
skills disappear, we begin to forget what food should taste like, what wood should feel like, what clay
can become. Once these people are gone, we will no longer be able to hang on to our world. So we must
give them the time that they need to teach us their gifts. Only then can we discover the magic that
we’ve always held in our hands.
Once your hands know what to do, you will find that your head – and then your heart – will follow.
Transformed, you can now put others in touch with the power of their hands.
Add some beauty to the world
With your new hands, add some beauty to the world. Help others who are doing the same. Whenever
you must buy something from a store, choose the beautiful over the mundane, the unique over the
ordinary, the handmade over the mass produced. We must be careful not to consume the amazing
beauty of the planet where we live. We must work together to preserve its stunning variety of plants,
animals, and cultures. We must become net contributors to this collective creation.
There’s a wonderful Estonian folk song that begins with the line: “Igav on olla iluta.” While difficult to
translate, “it’s boring to be without beauty” might come close. But a life without beauty is more than
just boring: it is uninspiring. Beauty provides the inspiration you will need to find a way to sanctuary.
And once you’re there, this same beauty will help you commune with your most holy of holies.
Give more than you take
Once upon a time, there lived a hermit who wanted to find a few simple words that might change the
world and make it a better place. After meditating each day, he would write the best words he had
discovered on the walls of his hermitage. When those particular words no longer felt quite right, he
would erase them and return to his search for better words. After the old hermit died, the distant
neighbor who buried his body came across what appeared to be the hermit’s last words: “Give more
than you take.”
An extra hand
If we have done our work properly, you should find a sanctuarium within the pages of each one of our
books. Our originals are hand-illustrated on handmade paper using medieval methods at Labora, our
workshops dedicated to preserving the monastic arts. We have done our best to make our books
beautiful so that we might give them to you.
If you still have problems finding a sanctuary, there is one more thing that you can do. Come to Tallinn’s
Old Town and visit the Ukrainian Cultural Center plus the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church next door. Here, you will find a true sanctuary that an artist named Anatoli Ljutjuk built by hand with the help of his friends.
Within this creative sanctuary, you will be able to see the original versions of our books as well as visit a small church dedicated to the Virgin with Three Hands. The Virgin with Three Hands is the protector of all living
beings who have been falsely accused and unjustly persecuted. She also protects those who have
suffered innocently, without cause. The Virgin’s outstretched arms are ready to embrace any creature
seeking refuge – no matter what their species or where they are from.
Those of us who work at this particular sanctuary all share the same purpose: returning the spiritual to
people’s everyday life. After all, a body without its animating spirit is a dead and lifeless thing. Safe
within a sanctuary, all forms of life – be they people, plant, or animal – can thrive. Wherever you happen
to be as you are reading these lines, we hope that you will join us by building a sanctuarium of your
And if you should ever need an extra hand, remember that the Virgin with Three Hands is ready to lend
you one of hers.