refuge

January 8, 2018

If you are like me, winter may just be your favorite time for reading. Do you have anything interesting on your nightstand, smartphone or Kindle at the moment? Having recently discovered author Sally Clarkson, I’ve been reading her book The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming, cowritten with her daughter Sarah Clarkson. The central theme of the book is the importance of making one’s home a place that provides a refuge, and physical and spiritual nourishment and enrichment to the family members and guests that are invited in. I’m up to the August chapter and wanted to share the following sweet paragraph regarding shelter.

Sally writes:

“That’s what Clay and I have always wanted our home to be for ourselves, for our guests, and especially for our children and our friends. Though we hope for blessing and joy in their lives as they go out into the world, we know all too well they will face challenges, frustrations, and disappointments. So we strive to make our home a refuge where those outside struggles can be left behind for a time, where all of us can come to regroup and recharge. We want home to be a haven when they are discouraged and weary of heart and soul.”

Like more and more people that I meet as I go through life, I have a tendency to be a wee bit of a loner. While I do place a great value on companionship and friendship, it has been only in recent years that I have truly felt the security of a safe harbour in which to entrust my soul and my self into the hands of others. A risky prospect.

Allowing one’s self to be vulnerable takes great courage. Great courage.


Among other books for winter reading this year are the Bible and the Tao the Ching, which is never far from my desk. I am a spiritual person and believe that there is good to be found within each of the world’s religions. At any given time, in addition to these two books, there is to be found on my nightstand or desk, any number of Buddhist works and more recently, selected writings from the Talmud.

In their Lifegiving Home book, the Clarksons make reference to this passage from the Bible:

Ecclesiastes 4:10: For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

As we navigate through our days, building relationships and tending to the everyday needs of our family, ourselves, our work, we can start to feel the heaviness that all these pressures can bring. I’ve found that having a strong base camp is an absolute necessity, whether it be in our houses, the RV we are traveling the country in, or the tiny apartment in which we currently reside as we finish up our graduate program far away from our “real home”. Most of us will experience several moves within our lifetime, as I can attest to for myself. While the physical locations may change over time, what matters is that we find the nourishment, rest, and renewal that we need. Our base camp is the place where nurturing the wounded spirit and sometimes even the wounded flesh, might take place.

The mice often take refuge in our barn.


In my own little world, my refuge is my home and I find great renewal in spending time with my man and my dog, making art, and tending to the garden. The plants don’t care and accept me as I am. Same with the art, the man and the dog. We tend to each other and provide strength and encouragement. This is my base camp and life is good.

I hope life is good for you also. And I wish you much joy and prosperity in the new year.

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