A word from Canon Smalley in the November 19, 2017 Adventurer
Bob Dylan’s 1975 album Blood on the Tracks has been described as a personal eulogy for a failed relationship, a longing for the beauty of what he once had. You may be familiar with a number of songs from that album, along with these emotions, but one of my favorites addresses something that we all long for. The song is “Shelter From the Storm.” When I recently asked a friend, “What do you think I should write about?”, her response, without hesitation, was “shelter from the storm.”
There are the obvious times of crisis in our lives when we seek shelter from the storms around us – when health or relationships change, the financial house of cards crumbles, facades of security and control are pulled away, identities we’ve composed for ourselves are undone, to name a few – but from the beginning, when we exit our mother’s womb, we begin to look for shelter. Shelter is a healthy longing, a need mental and emotional as well as physical, a need God acknowledges and promises to provide for in the midst of our myriad attempts to provide for ourselves and cover our needs.
Seeing the fundamentally theological answer to this longing for shelter helps us to address the day-to-day. It is not to theologize and ignore the real and significant present manifestations of this longing, which we’re called to see and bear with one another, but to bring clarity and hope to steer us through the storm.
The present storms of life are very real, but not the last word. In the working out of the final redeeming word – the full shelter and rest for us in Jesus’ death and resurrection – we undergo times of storm and loss that are temporary, not final. I pray we remember, hold fast to, and experience the peace promised to us in the fact that the final word is God’s – a gathering word that supplants, supersedes, and stills the storms.