Refuge – what does this mean? A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be given to help in a night shelter for people seeking asylum in this country. I say lucky because for some time now I have been troubled by the images and news we see almost daily. Displaced people, fleeing their homelands and living in desperate situations. I wanted to help and I had no idea what I could do.
Suddenly an opportunity presented itself right on my door step. I stayed overnight at the shelter, with another volunteer – allowing the one resident to have a warm bed for the night. It was a pleasure to be able to make breakfast for him in the morning. You may be surprised to hear that he was clean, tidy, gracious and polite, a man who speaks six languages (five more than me to my shame). My heart went out to him as he spoke to his wife and baby back home before going to sleep.
Small act of kindness
Of course this small act of kindness made me feel good. It really was very small as there are many other people out there seeking shelter and refuge. I still feel that it was important. What would the world be like if everyone tried to help a refugee, a homeless person or asylum seeker in whatever small way they could?
We are all seeking refuge (not my words, those of the wonderful Tara Brach https://www.tarabrach.com/). Refuge from anxiety, guilt, shame, stress, worry and the feeling that we are not enough. That refuge can come I many forms – drugs, alcohol, food, work, habitual ways of thinking, helping others, meditation and much more..
Tara describes “True Refuge” as a place of peace, contentedness and inner freedom, even in the face of life’s challenges. It does not depend on anything outside of ourselves – a person, situation, a cure, mood or emotion. She says that the yearning for such a refuge is universal. I think maybe we all have something in common with those refugees we see on the television. Despite our privileged lives we can relate to them and their plight and perhaps we can help in our own small way.