Theology in the Trenches: Shelter From on High am the prodigal

Kathleen Kjolhaug
Religion Columnist

Reflections while working at a children’s home in Costa Rica, Hogar de Vida, Homes of Life.

Corrugated metal roof mish-mashes atop building acting as a protector over. Over what? I am not sure ... perhaps over hearts ... broken hearts who do not have words for what it is they feel. They have no words because their lingo consists of jabbers and syllables. After all, when one is merely months new to the world and not yet interdependent but totally dependent, cover is needed. Shelter, really is what is needed. The rooftop gives shelter. Yes, that is what it does, it shelters from on high. That is its call; its duty is to protect that which is under its covering.

One needs protection and covering; it’s not an option if one is to survive. Perhaps survive is not the correct word but rather, live. Yes, live, that’s it. Without the shelter from above, those under it do not and cannot live.

Like the corrugated rooftop, there have been ripples in the lives of those it covers. There have been enough of them, ripples that is, so they need shelter elsewhere ... in this place. They come for shelter, they come for protection.

This analogy is the same all over the mundo; all over the world it is the same. Without shelter from on high, without shelter from above, we cannot live. We do not live. 

Protection which allows true living reaches well beyond corrugated rooftops. Rooftops would blow far and wide without that which anchors them.

Like rooftops anchored, so too must I be. No longer do I want to blow far and wide when ripples enter into life. Nope. I pray to be anchored. I do not want to merely believe there is an anchor. I desire more. I desire to follow that which anchors, and so in turn, I turn.

I turn to see what it is I must turn from and to Whom I must turn towards. The yearning is deep and the only way to know is to take pause, be still, and listen. And when I listen, I hear. 

I hear the cries as a new day dawns. I know exactly what is going on under the corrugated rooftop. Children’s arms are reaching up while tias’ arms are reaching down to lift them on high as He alone anchors. 

His promises are true today, tomorrow, both now and forever. One of which is, “In this world you will have troubles ... but take heart for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

And as I still, He stills with His Word. “But you, Lord, are a shield about me, my glory who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, from Whose holy mountain comes my answer.” (Psalm 3:3). Amen.

(Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)