Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your habitation, There shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. Psalm 91:9-10
One summer during college, I worked on Cape Cod. I took long runs for exercise, during which I ruminated on my family’s deep dysfunction and my future. One day I came upon a tiny Episcopal church set in a pine grove. A stone bench under the trees bore the words, “In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge/until this calamity be overpast” (Psalm 57:1). I sat down in the shade of the fragrant evergreen branches and felt covered in benevolent Presence. As the salt breeze hummed through the pine needles, the problems were still there, but I knew I could face whatever came.
“Refuge” shows up in many psalms and appears in Psalm 91 three times. It refers to God as the One we return to, flee to, come home to. Under the wings of the Beloved, we find safety and shelter, recollection and regrouping, being and belonging.
Psalm 91 might imply that nothing bad will happen to the faithful. But our lived experience tells us that all will encounter evil and dis-ease. The plagues of systemic racism, COVID-19, wealth disparity and climate change are indeed deadly scourges. But the great message of Lent and Easter is that death no longer has dominion over us.
Taking refuge in God, we find room to breathe, solid ground to stand, spacious perspective to see the bigger picture. Dwelling in the Risen Christ, we are free, liberated from fear no matter what befalls. We can choose hope in tackling the existential problems that confront us. We can choose love in the face of hate. We can choose joy at the faintest whisper of wind in the trees.
Holy Trinity, I take refuge under your wings. Make me a living chapel of your presence. And help me leave the door open.