Lately the issue of ‘Refuge’ has been on my heart and mind. It all came to a sharp point last night as I sat in a small coffeehouse with a close friend, catching up after not seeing each other for over a month. As she and I got to talking it seemed we each recalled several incidents in which people we’d run into lately just seemed so harsh, inconsiderate and discourteous. From co-workers to family to people in traffic it seemed so obvious that not everyone has a sense of concern for others that prevails in their behavior.
The dictionary gives the following definition for the word, ‘refuge’; “..shelter or protection from danger or distress: a means of resort for help in difficulty.” I recall how, years ago, I was at a large, semi-formal company banquet being held at the Queen Mary. There were perhaps eleven to thirteen hundred people in attendance and it was a very special, elegant evening. During the end of the entertainment after dinner the dance went into gear with the loud explosion of about twenty large cannons that fired confetti onto the crowd from high overhead. Immediately the deejay began to play dance music and everyone rushed out to the large, central dance floor.
My lady and I set down our napkins and went directly towards the center of the crowd and enjoyed the music, dancing as the confetti continued to trickle down and float amongst the balloons and laughter. It was a fast song and the combination of confetti, polished floor and her high-heel shoes all suddenly came to a clash. In a flurried moment her feet went out from beneath her and down she fell upon the dance floor. For a brief moment, amidst all the noise, it seemed as if time stopped for just a frozen second. People from the corner of their eyes knew something had happened. She laid there stunned in her gown amidst a few balloons. We looked at each other. Suddenly, without thought, I reached over her and pulled her up holding her head tightly to my chest hiding her for a moment from the stares around us. I stood with her, we began to sway, to laugh. I looked at her directly and smiled. Then she took off her shoes and we danced on throughout the night.
In our lives we hopefully have many people who care for us. We have parents, perhaps children, friends, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances. But even amongst our best of best-friends there is no one amongst these who stands beside us intimately for the duration the way we hope to find with the one we call our ‘beloved’. Our mate, confidante, our one trusted lover. In a world where not everyone is kind or understanding, a world where even our closest of friends will follow their own mate in whatever direction it takes them.. one of the things we should hope to find in our beloved is the essence of ‘refuge’. One with whom we shouldn’t have to protect ourselves from. One who we can trust and rely upon to hold close for comfort and a sense of safety when life’s little, inevitable panics come our way.
One of the greatest burdens for me to witness is the sight of a man who delivers physical blows to the wife who has vowed to be his helpmate in life. It is in complete violation of love. Our mate should be the very one we can be ourselves with whether in weakness, sadness, joy or ecstasy. If there is anyone we should make supreme effort to make feel safe and secure in our presence at any time it is the one who has promised their love to us. As humans we can only provide so much refuge. We are not perfect, we are not always available or understanding. We don’t always have answers. There are spiritual issues we are unable to satisfy as mere mortals. But to the degree we can provide the place of refuge for our beloved, we should strive to do so.
A friend of mine once told me, “It is better to be alone than to wish you were alone.” Solomon put it another way saying, “This have I seen, it is too heavy for the earth to bear… that a wife remain unloved.” I, as well as several of you I dare to guess, know what it is like to hold someone close and endeared yet they are distant and unreliable in times of weakness or distress. In other ways they could be perhaps gentle or giving for a moment but one thing they did not have was the desire to “be there” when we might need them most. It is a sorrowful irony to hold someone so close and yet feel so alone and without shelter.
In seeking to be a good mate as well as make decision about the one we will endear to our heart and destiny, I feel the issue of refuge is an important one to keep in mind. There is no particular difficulty finding someone who can share in the times of your life when all is well and the sun shines upon you. But eventually the days will come in our life when we have reached our limit or been affronted by something, someone in this world we find difficult to handle alone. We will need to know at those times that, along with our spiritual convictions to rely upon God inwardly, when we turn to our helpmate we will find someone who has proven themselves to be genuinely concerned for our hurts and welfare. This comes with time and trust as we share our lives with the right people and not only find ourselves finding compassion and shelter with such a person but we also find ourselves willing to be of the same comfort to them should they ever need us to pull them up, hold them close and share their hurts as if they were our own.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.