Places of Refuge
August, 2007

The sweltering, humid days of August amble towards us.  
Nights are hot
and still except for an occasional fierce thunderstorm that passes by,
only to leave the air thick with humidity,
causes us to sweat even in our times of resting.  
We sleep with very little covering us.  
The air is heavy and at times hard to breath.  
The smell of mown grass,
hazy mornings and evenings, dark red sunsets,
and meteor showers add to the ambiance of this time.  
We long for a time of retreat, a vacation…to soothe our aching souls.

We need times to withdraw
from those things that are difficult and sometimes dangerous.  
Places of privacy and safety…
refuges…are hard to find these days.  

Finding such a place in Almighty God
is comforting and life sustaining.  
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.  
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge.” (Psalm 91:1-2, 4).  

One of the processes of soul-making
is to cultivate places where we can retire
and renew our energy and vigor.  
A particular place has some history to us,
some personality that engages us.  
For me, the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming
have carried some meaning and value.
In my young adolescent years
I lived in the shadows of those great ranges…
from May through September…
finding delight in the streams and forests, fishing and hiking.
Those mountains have grown on me.  
Every time I visit them
they offer me the gifts of sanctuary, refuge, and renewing strength.  
The place carries some sacredness for me.
Taking vacations or pilgrimages of soul to
parks, gardens, rivers, forests, mountains…
wilderness areas…refresh our inner life.  

Life involves cultivating places
of retreat in our homes,
in our work-spaces, in our yards, gardens,
and neighborhoods we live.  
Learning how to dwell imaginatively
in a place can awaken the soul.
The soul loves to be attached to life.  
It desires our care in the living spaces we find ourselves.  

Emily Dickenson and Henry David Thoreau
encourage us to establish a relationship with nature
as it presents itself outside our door…
getting to know the sounds of birds, insects,
the wind as it passes through the rustling leaves,
the types of grasses, and fragrance of flowers.

As we get more intimate with a place
we establish a relationship to it
and our inner life becomes attached.  

Memory is one of the important necessities of the soul.  
Our inner life feeds on things remembered, savors them.  
The smell, the taste and feeling of a place bewitches us.  
We become caught in its enchantment.  
We sojourn in these places with our imagination and find God.

Wherever we make a home,
we craft a place of refuge.  

These places become full of mystery,
they hold us in their arms,
and carry the savor of being special.
Every place has its own history and spirit.  

By staying in a place,
it enters us and we enter it.  
God manifests Himself
in those places we cultivate as a home.  

The Holy Scriptures can be that home, also…
if we bring the tender care of the soul to those Words.  

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