In my home office, I have a painting of the Hundred Acre Wood. For Christopher Robin and friends, the Hundred Acre Wood provided a safe place for adventure and relationship. A new world opened for Christopher Robin as he left the cruel, lonely, grown up world and entered into a relational calm filled with life, love, and laughter.
As a child I would sometimes build tents in my home with blankets over tables and chairs. This tent served as my version of your treehouse, or your clubhouse, or your bedroom. A shelter to think in, to dream in, to live in, even if just for a few brief moments in time. Because the tent was not a permanent structure and had to be put away a few hours after construction, I learned to find another shelter to shield me from the world around me. At an early age, I built a shelter in my own mental and emotional world where I could experience a life that made sense to me when the life around me seemed to be spiraling out of control. This inner shelter soon became an outer shield where I lived much of my life in two worlds. Behaving and talking and performing in the physical world became common place for me as I lived and breathed another existence under the hard shell I crafted to keep my true self from exposure.
The new era of COVID-19 has forced many into their own shells. Six foot distancing, stay at home orders, lack of medical supplies, suspicion over a neighbor's cough. All of these have created communities that are behaving, talking, and performing in the physical world, yet living and breathing another existence trying to adjust to a new normal. We fill our shelters with physical supplies that will far outlast the crisis. We find ways to connect with one another via chat rooms and online communities. We use screens to hide ourselves from family members that we are now forced to spend time with in close quarters. Shelter pulls at us while reminding us that having a place of protection from the outside world remains a basic human need.
Psalm 91:1 says, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." The reference leads us to a spiritual shelter where we find hope, peace, comfort, love, and security. We struggle to find the shelter because the journey of our lives has taken us other places far from our spiritual anchor. We each possess a spiritual place where we can be one with our Creator. Physical and emotional experiences steal the keys that lock the spiritual self away to keep us from getting into the depths that God has provided for us as a safe shelter. Physical trauma and emotional trauma come in many forms. I would encourage you to research where trauma comes from and broaden your mind to the ways the enemy twists our lives to prevent us from knowing solitude and peace.
This week has been a week of adjustment for our family, and I am sure that the week has been one of adjustment for you. Everyone is home now, and we are figuring it out. We could choose to retreat into our worlds or we could choose to let our worlds collide into new adventures and journeys that will keep us connected for years to come. Even as we find ways to interact and know one another, we still must find our shelter, our safe place, our version of the Hundred Acre Wood. We can go for a moment and relax, laugh, live, but we can't stay there. Somehow these worlds have to collide, too. Somehow we have to find a way to break through the physical and emotional mess that is keeping our spiritual selves locked away. Meditation can help. Music can help. Reading can help. Resting can help. Recreation can help. All of these tools are useful, and for me these tools, guided by the power of God's Spirit, can help me find the security I need to bring all of my worlds - as messy as they may be - into focus. Will you join me on the journey? Let's make these next few days and maybe weeks the most significant weeks of our lives. Don't let a small virus destroy your inner being. Society may struggle and possibly crumble. Who knows? I do know this for sure from my own experience with working through personal trauma. "... Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Psalm 30:5, ESV).