“My Father’s Tie (Sanctuary)”
Oil on canvas, Deb Marett

As a freshman in college I saw the movie “The Highlander,” purely because our school mascot was a Highlander (think Scottish guy in a kilt with bagpipes), so we thought that a movie named after us was pretty cool. There was a scene set in the middle ages, where two men, whose basic purpose in life was to kill each other, met in a church to discuss the terms of said killing of each other. They could do this safely because the church was Holy Ground, and therefore any violence within its walls was unthinkable.

Having grown up Protestant, this was a new concept to me. In my childhood, the actual church building was the place we went for Sunday services, Wednesday youth group, choir practice, and even New Year’s eve all-night parties. It was a fairly plain building where we spent a lot of time; but it was just a building.

Since then, I have learned and experienced a broader range of denominations and ideas, and while doctrine-wise my protestant roots are where I remain, the idea of a holy place that is held apart, where safety is assured, calls to me and seems very right–and very needed in this weary world of ours. In our quest to remove any barriers between the common laity and God, we protestants may have gone overboard in letting go of certain traditions and ceremonial acts that serve to keep an awe and solemness to our approach of the Almighty.

There is in all of us, I think, a hard-wired need to find our sacred, holy places. Most of those tend to be a certain place that holds great meaning or where we find peace and clarity of mind. I have found that I flee to my easel or drawing board when things get bad, as there I can control the outcome of

the worlds I create. As a figure skater, the ice has also always been a place a refuge for me, where the troubles of the world cannot approach.

I met Travis when he was the Director of a retreat center that is housed in a 19th Century college full of stained glass, creaking radiators and well worn wooden floors. The place fairly breathes you in as you pass though the heavy front door. You would walk past huge paintings in gilt frames and displays of ancient silver, until you found Travis in his office/study, lined floor-to-ceiling with books, and dimly lit with a late winter afternoon sun.

Though he is now retired, to me he is still the walking embodiment of that quiet, restful place. As I’ve been thinking about who to paint for “Famous,” or telling people about my chosen subjects, I continually find myself saying things like, “Melinda is a pediatric cancer researcher, Ann works in South Africa to save a species of endangered cranes, and Travis is…..well, Travis is.”

I could of course list many things that he is or does, that make him well known and well loved in our community. But for me the bigger description is that Travis is one of my “Holy Ground” people, representing and offering sanctuary to those who walk into his sphere.

Travis is peaceful.

Travis is peace.

Travis is.


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