Have you ever thought about the purpose of a blanket fort? You’ve probably made one before: blankets strewn across chairs and pillows on the floor, like a sheik’s tent nestled by a desert oasis. From an adult’s perspective, it looks like blankets that will have to be refolded and throw pillows not designed for sitting upon and chairs which have been dragged to new locations, leaving scuff marks on the hardwood floor. But to kids it’s a shelter. A warm, shadowed place for them to feel cozy and safe.
Our family recently attended a funeral for a dear friend. As the six of us lined up and walked down a church pew, our youngest son was the last of the group to be seated. Not overly pleased to be in “Big Church” on a Thursday, he plopped down with the tall end of the church pew on his left and me on his right. In spite of the loving, celebratory tone for the memorial service, I noticed our son scooting in to the protection of my side. I rested my arm behind him on the back of the pew, and he leaned in. The solid wood on his left and the warmth of his mom on his right was comforting and protective. It was a safe shelter in a stormy place where fathers pass away and people around him cry through several tissues.
The Book of Psalms is full of language describing a desire to feel that kind of protection and shelter in moments of sadness and fear.
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17 (NIV)
“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27 (NIV)
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4 (NIV)
“I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61 (NIV)
With 2017 coming to an end, the general consensus is that it’s been a tumultuous year. Floods and fires and fighting in Washington has made me yearn for a safe and protective place. I want the shelter a baby bird feels as he draws in to the soft feathers of his mother, when she pulls her child in close and rests her wing on top of him.
I crave the dark, muffled stillness of a blanket fort. Heavy blankets draped across chairs and me cuddled beneath.
But most of all, I desire the same thing the Psalmist David did so many thousands of years ago. I crave a refuge, a warm safety, a shelter.