Shelter and Refuge
by Vina Mogg
Almost one century ago my home was built on a post and pier foundation
above the sands of the sea.
This tiny wooden cottage fitted together from pieces of tongue and groove ship lap
has weathered many storms, winds, and rain. Like an ark suspended above the waters, it has been a refuge from the elements. It rescued me when the depths of grief and transition and loss were overcoming.
The definition of a cottage is a small simple house.
The original word for cottage in Hebrew is suka: a temporary shelter or a booth made of leaves and branches interwoven.
My father grew up in a nipa hut in the Philippines. Its roof was made of thatched palm leaves woven together.
It was a house built on a foundation of bamboo poles to keep it safe above the ground during rains of monsoon season. Its walls and floor built from bamboo spilt by a rustic knife a bolo.
In Tagalog, the language of the Philippines, the house is called Bahay Kubo, which means cubed house.
Its cubed shape makes it easy to assemble and disassemble. Its four walls provide shelter from storms and rain.
Across the ocean from my father’s nipa hut my shiplap cottage was built a few years after his birth, in 1926.
Almost a century ago materials for the cottage were ferried from the city across the Puget Sound.
Timbers of local trees were split into tongue and groove planks and pieced together to from the outside siding and inside walls .
Logs were used to build its pier foundation hovering above the edge of the shore.
Foundation posts were dug into the sand hold up the house above the waterline.
Its four walls a cube with windows that open up to the Puget Sound and majestic Mt. Rainier.
This cottage was built as a temporary shelter, a summer escape from everyday life.
Two houses. A cottage and a nipa hut.
Two homes across the world.
Two temporary shelters. Sukas built as a refuge from the storms. The storms of life, monsoons and rain.
My father’s house was pieced together from split bamboo and woven leaves. It was the place he sheltered from the ravages that war that left upon his body. It was the place he recovered from the spectres death and pain and loss.
My cottage was pieced together from split wooden planks and shiplap beams. In the shelter of its tour walls I recovered from the sorrow of loss and disease and heartbreak.
These two homes were a refuge for pain and loss.
My father recovered from his escape as a WWII Bataan Death March survivor within the walls of his nipa hut.
I recovered from the grief of losing my mother to the ravages of Alzheimer’s within the shiplap walls of this cottage.
The pieces of my life are gathered from the span of two bodies of water, across the Philippine Sea to the Puget Sound.
God pieced together.
A refuge for us.
From two pieces of lumber that meet in the middle to form a cross.
On those two crossbeams of wood he carried our brokenness.
His brokenness became a shelter for our pain.
He himself became our suka, our temporary shelter. Our tent of bones and flesh that housed the glory and power of God.
The cross is our foundation.
By this action he himself became our dwelling place. We can live and abide fully in his presence because he was broken for us.
The things that break us leave our heart vacant.
We search for a place to hide.
God provides that space.
He longs to be our dwelling place.
A place to run to. To regroup. To reestablish, to nurture our souls.
He longs to be our hiding place
Our tabernacle. Our tent. Our suka.
In Hebrew one word for refuge is dwelling or refuge
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:
His arms are our foundation of safety.
The pillars that will hold us up when we feel the storms of life will knock us down.
These everlasting arms can shoulder our pain and support us in power and strength.
Friend, let Him be your refuge.
Let Him carry you in His everlasting arms when you are
broken, beat down, lonely, tired, discouraged..
He longs to be your shelter.
Once settled in His arms
He can fashion something new from broken pieces.
He restores our souls.
Vina Bermudez Mogg is rebuilding life through words, wood, paper and paint in a century old cottage by the Puget Sound. Stories on restoring life and faith through seasons of empty nesting, motherhood, caregiving for Alzheimer’s, and its parallel to restoring a 1926 abode are found on her website, vinabermudezmogg.com.
Places she has been published include The Wonder Years: 40 Women Over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength, Ruminate Magazine, redbudwritersguild.com, thewritelaunch.com, and mudroomblog.com. Follow her on Instagram @vinabmogg.