Tired and weary, worn down and burned out. You can’t find relief because you have no refuge. So let’s build a storm shelter together.
It’s the noise that wears you down. The ambient, in the background but all around you, stresses of life.
You’re the meat in the sandwich, and everyone wants a bite.
- Feelings and thoughts
The grind of the grindstone wears you down till nothing is left.
All you want to do is to go to a place where the streets have no names, no postal codes, and there’s no one hammering on your door.
I want to run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls that hold me inside
I wanna reach out and touch the flame
Where the streets have no name. U2
My Mothers Bible
The other day I was flicking through my mother’s Bible and happened to come across a verse in the Psalms where she had marked with pen and added a date.
I checked the date with other memories of what was happening in the stream of her life at that time.
It was a time of struggle for my mother.
My father was unwell, and she was losing him. He died 82 days later, on October 3rd. She would follow him in ‘promotion to glory’ 166 days later.
I recently wrote about this in a guest post on Contemplative light – I’m Grateful For Ink
What a stormy time for us as a family that was.
Here is a picture of the verse in her Bible.
That word ‘refuge’ has an invite to it.
It’s a city set up in advance by God to be a place to hide.
God had a plan
In the Bible, we have a book called Numbers, and in it, we find God giving instructions about making certain towns to be places where if you committed accidental manslaughter, you could run to claim asylum.
When you cross the River Jordan into the country of Canaan, designate your asylum cities, towns to which a person who accidentally kills someone can flee for asylum. They will be places of refuge. Numbers 35:9-12
So you accidentally kill someone.
You’re cutting down a tree, and it falls on your neighbor’s house and kills someone.
They want to take revenge, and so you run. But where do you run to?
God prescribed certain towns to be places where you could run to, find safety, and where the accusations could be heard, and true justice is done.
It was a place of refuge—a shelter from the storm.
And everyone knew ahead of time. ‘If this happens, go here.’
In many different ways, people still need a safe place to run to—a place where they can be heard, known, loved, and supported.
I get many emails from people who come to my most popular blog post I’ve had Enough, Take my Life God, I Want to die.
They are in strife. The storm is raging, and they want someone safe. So they email me.
I respond, and hopefully, what I share, or more so by just being there, they can catch their breath.
Very few engage beyond that first email and my response. But I know that the storm will hit again, and then what will they do?
The refuge for the tired and weary
In parts of the USA, homeowners have this kind of door in their backyard. It’s like a trapdoor.
At certain times of the year, storms can roll in and destroy everything. So they prepare in advance. They have a place to go to.
I suppose they put in some canned food and bottles of water. Maybe some communication device, but it’s ready for when they see the storm coming.
It’s a kind of ‘city of refuge.’
But what about emotional storms, relational violent storms.
Here in New Zealand, we have an organization called ‘Woman’s Refuge.’
All across our country are safe houses where women and their children can go to and find safety and security from dangerous partners.
They get the help they need to re-establish themselves.
I have also known women who men have emotionally battered.
No physical scars or violent injuries, but there has been a destruction of their beauty. They want a shelter.
Men need this too. Men need safe others who will listen without F.A.S.S. (No Fixing, Advising, Saving, or ‘Setting one straight’).
I think of the number of men I know who have relationships where they get emotionally abused by a woman.
They are struggling to cope but think it’s weak to reach out for help. They’re stuck in a wild storm and are getting crushed.
The most required item in a storm is to know that you’re not alone.
Someone to say that this will pass, and we will, together, emerge back into the world and be stronger for it.
Building your refuge
We all need safe places and people where we can find refuge. Relationships that matter.
We build them before the storm, and if we haven’t, we build them anyway.
It could simply be a phone call to a friend. Maybe it’s an email to someone like me. For some, it’s a hobby, while for others, it’s a spiritual practice.
It could be going for a walk or practicing mindfulness.
There will be a caring for the ‘I.’
I have had the privilege of being a place of refuge for the weary and tired to find rest.
At times, in the past, it has been a physical ‘Come into my office/ study and rest.’
But more so, it has been in the sense that people can share the burden of the reality they are living in.
We talk, we listen, we pray, and then we leave that little bit stronger.
I still offer this in conversations.
Then it’s making it a habit-building resilience due to a daily refuge finding.
Refuge – a current carrying you along
This post I have written was, in part, inspired by listening to a podcast episode of ‘Being Well’ with Dr. Rick Hanson and his son Forest Hanson.
Rick mentioned the need for all of us to have a refuge.
A refuge is anything that protects, nurtures, or uplifts you. Life can be hard, and everyone has difficult uncomfortable experiences. We all need refuges. What are your own? Rick Hanson
They then went on to offer a specific practice of finding refuge.
Pick something that is a refuge for you, such as the image of a beautiful meadow, the memory of a loved one, or the wisdom in a saying.
Open to feelings and sensations related to this refuge.
Get a sense of having a refuge, and stay with this experience and let it in.
Try naming the refuge to yourself, such as “I take refuge in ____.”
See how this feels, and allow the sense of refuge to grow inside you.
Try this naming with other refuges.
Explore relating to a refuge not as something “over there” that’s separate from you, but rather as something already present in you.
You could say to yourself things like “May I come from ____,” or “I’m abiding as ____,” or “May I be uplifted by ____.”
Regarded in this way, a refuge can feel like a wholesome, beneficial current carrying you along.
Try taking refuge in gratitude . . . in the feeling of being liked by people who do care about you . . . in the sense of your kindness and decency . . . in anything else you want.
Give over to your refuges. Let them live you. Dr. Rick Hanson
When you’re tired and weary, you need a refuge.
Quotes to consider
- In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds. John of the Cross
- Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. Confessions by Augustine of Hippo
- Contemplation isn’t thinking about something or other – even thinking about God. It is making space in our hearts for the touch of the Loving and Living God and then allowing that touch to flow through the rest of our being and out into the world. David Benner
- Augustine says: ‘You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.’ Spirituality is about what we do with our unrest. Ronald Rolheiser
- Tiredness is of the body, but weariness is of the soul and isn’t healed by sleep as much as by examining the pressures that bear upon our soul. David Riddell
- Too much improvisation empties the mind in a stupid way. Running beer gathers no froth. No haste, gentlemen. Let us mingle majesty with the feast. Let us eat with meditation; let us make haste slowly. Let us not hurry. Victor Hugo – Les Misérables
- The antidote to stress, depression, anxiety, despair is to be on then off, work- play, inhale-exhale, summer-winter. Rhythm is built into creation, and the problem with the modern world is that you can get tomatoes at 2 am Rob Bell.
Questions to answer
- What is the source of noise that you need to either turn down or create a refuge away from?
- What is a refuge for you?
- Is there something that stops you from being kind to yourself?