Taking Refuge

Today a friend of mine shared this poem with me, by Pepper Trail. It might interest you.


—Ammon Bundy, leader of the armed seizure of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters

The tyranny of cranes, stalking the marsh edge, their rust-red colts gangling behind

The tyranny of warblers, feathers flashing through the leaves in early spring

The tyranny of pronghorn, trying their speed across the unfenced plain

The tyranny of sage grouse, their ancient dance of boom and strut

The tyranny of winter geese, their numbers doubling the blizzard

The tyranny of solitude, the playa echoing the silent moon

The tyranny of butterflies, gliding above the rabbitbrush

The tyranny of desert trout, sheltering in willow shade

The tyranny of water, free of pump and ditch

The tyranny of land, free of sheep and cow

The tyranny of refuge

In the news we read of folks who occupy a refuge that is home to wild life, a place dedicated to life as it is becoming. In our human lives we often find fault, seeming to bow down and worship our frustration and dissatisfaction: THIS IS NOT IT, THERE MUST BE A BETTER WORLD. Like Dylan:

Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm.

“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you, shelter from the storm.”

-Bob Dylan, Shelter From the Storm

It is always something that sparks life’s dissatisfaction, that seems to throw us into exile. We are like Napoleon on St. Helena separated from what he loves, the empire of France, from the world as he imagines it should be. So, like him we imagine life on the mainland -- if only...

This is the spiritual dilemma, finding fault, finding something wrong with our lives, carefully examining the tyranny of perceived imperfection while missing the desert trout, experiencing the tyranny of our fixed views while failing to glimpse the flash of the warbler’s wing, or hear the call of the raven. Seeking far from home we miss the life right here, the wonder of the moment. We imagine the circumstance, the perfect job, the ideal relationship where we might find our Shelter from the Storm. Our dissatisfied and restless hearts call out for refuge.


To wake up is to not find fault with our lives. It is receiving what the moment has to give, without embellishment, apart from explanation, far from problem solving or any need to “fix what is wrong.” Waking up is to recognize the undivided life, what Thomas Merton called the “hidden wholeness.” As we awaken to life, we awaken to the brightness at the heart of things. To rest in the present, to move deeply into what life has to offer, is to open our hearts to the seamlessness of things, the wholeness of life that is before the storm, before anything that might disquiet.

Taking Refuge

To take refuge is to trust in life to be what it is. It is to rest in the wholeness of things, to participate in life apart from finding fault or needing to fix. To find refuge is to dwell in what Jesus called the Realm of God, or what Buddhists might call the Pure Land. Here, as the tempest rages, we find rest -- not from the storm, but in the storm. With hearts open life is what it is and we are who we are, not perfect but whole, awake and welcoming of what comes. There is a formal practice of taking refuge. Derived from the Buddhist tradition, taking refuge is a mark of initiation, it is a way that we have of indicating our intention to live in the wholeness of life for the life and benefit of others. It is to dedicate ourselves to living apart from the delusion and illusion of our fixed views. Wtih refuge we dedicate ourselves to the freedom that is the pattern of things. Open Door is offering Refuge to all who would like to commit in this way. Refuge involves study of the 16 Vows for Life and Practice, and taking up a regular practice of meditation. All are welcome to inquire about taking refuge.

I hope you will join me this Wednesday, 6:30 pm for a time of meditation and conversation.

Best, David





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