Where do we turn for comfort and refuge?
Many of us turn to parents or partners, to friends or to neighbors when we are yearning for comfort, and we can comfort one another. We know, too, the agony of when someone we love and want to be our refuge and comfort is part of our sorrow and pain or just does not have anything left to offer us. Many of us turn to little comforts and pile them on, hoping they might fill the big yearning we have to be held and assured that yes, we are enough and loveable and even have something good to give this big old world. You know the little comforts - the videos or the chocolate or bears or a soft blanket - and if you know the little comforts then, too, you may well know how they can pile on and not actually feel so comforting anymore.
If the comforts we turn to fail us and our lives are in danger, we may indeed be fleeing for refuge. So where would we turn? Who would harbor us, welcome us in, even though doing so then puts their own lives in danger? How do you greet those fleeing for refuge - would they even come to you for help and aid?
Psalm 46 is one of those songs of seeking comfort and refuge, of trying to hold on when we feel that our lives are in danger or when we are feeling overwhelmed. That may be today or tomorrow or years in the future or years in the past, though I sincerely hope for all of us that is never. But I've known being overwhelmed and I've known fleeing for refuge and I've known yearning for comfort and coming up empty. And into that emptiness I've poured some Psalm 46 - God is our refuge and our strength - and with that and a good deal of other prayers, I've been more able to breathe and to reach out to someone else who is glad to reach out to me. Sometimes we cannot find our way to comfort or to refuge because we are so swamped with how we feel, because we are just trying to keep breathing, because we are too afraid to move. Prayer can be a little island onto which we can climb and catch our breath and get a plan together for how we're going to survive whatever mess we're in. Even should I forget the rest of Psalm 46, that first line is a very fine prayer, and repeating it over and over until I reach a little island of calm works for me so well, I recommend it to you.
There are times all of us will face, and some of us much more often than others, particularly if we live in areas rife with danger, if we struggle with racism and classism or other forms of hate and holding people apart and down. There are times all of us will yearn for comfort and there are times many of us are going to need refuge. Will we seek our comforts where comfort may truly be found, where our hearts are held and we may be cherished for the imperfectly wonderful beings we are? Will we offer one another this kind of comfort, even when we are tired, because we, too, have had that need, and because cherishing one another reminds of us of the blessings we enjoy and may be? Will we welcome one another when we need refuge, making a way when no way seems possible, a way for hope and love and joy to revive and endure?
If today you are overwhelmed, may you find a little shelter of calm, and from there another loving heart to help you on. If today you have courage or strength, may you be a bearer of hope and help, a maker of way and refuge. If today we are asked for and need refuge or kindness may we meet the presence of Abiding Love in another and find ourselves gathered in and made safe and welcome.
That's our daily work. We may stray from it. We may be driven from it. But we are yet called by Love to be a blessing and make a way for hope courageously in this world.