where do you take refuge?

Each of us deserves a safe harbor. Something on which we can depend, no matter what. Somewhere we can go when we’re raw and red and snotty.

When I think about refuge, I can’t help but travel back to the times when I was entirely without refuge and didn’t know it. I think mostly of moments at the beginning of my college years. I felt as if I was in freefall, and there was no limit to how far I could plummet.

I clawed desperately as I fell, clinging to anything that looked like it might hold me for a moment. I clung to people. I clung to exercise. I clung to sugar. None of them provided the refuge I sought. Instead, they were an anesthetic that distanced me from the hollow pain between my lungs, but also from myself and from the world.

I needed true refuge, but I didn’t know it. Because I didn’t know it, I blundered in the dark for years. I stumbled about, stubbing my toes as I learned the landscape through smarting trial and error. Eventually, I began to learn the placement of the sharp objects that would hurt me when I walked into them. Seeking out the safety of the empty space within the sharp corners led me, slowly, finally, to places of refuge.

The more I allowed myself to experience the asylum that was available to me, the easier it was to avoid the objects that stubbed my toes. Or maybe it was that I still stubbed my toes, but I had immediate healing available to me. Someone was there to kiss the bumps, which always made it better.

The someone who was there to kiss my owies, I learned later, was myself. Myself, with an ever-growing toolbox, cradled by a supportive community.

Today, after much learning, I take refuge most frequently within myself, my community, and the present moment.

Where do you take refuge?

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