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Rooftop Refuge: Seeking Solace

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord. How I long to be there, my soul faints to enter...

Psalm 84:1-2

On the roof, it's peaceful as can be and there the world below don’t bother me...

Carole King


It was hotter than blazes the five days we made Aix-en-Provence our home. I was sure I would melt into a puddle and be remembered no more. Especially after a day of exploring ancient Aix’s compact, often confusing and extremely congested streets, packed with visitors, like ourselves, converging there for a piece of its beauty and mystique. 


At day’s end we would slowly mount four flights of stairs to our little apartment up on the roof. Each step we took felt heavier than the last; doubts crept in that I would reach the top. But, fortunately, our sweet little abode had air conditioning, a rarity in France. And nothing felt quite so wonderful as stepping through that door.




But, being cooped up in air conditioning all evening didn’t suit a romantic soul like mine, either. Gratefully, just outside our French doors was a little rooftop refuge, a perch at trees top, my very own balcony sanctuary.


So, after a nice cool shower, I’d slip out onto the porch in my jammies − with my journal and cup of tea in hand − just as the sun was slipping further west and the heat of the day lessened. What a gift it was sitting peacefully above the hubbub, listening contentedly to conversations, and watching all the comings and goings of folks as they dined in cafés and ambled their way through the narrow streets below.




Those were sacred hours for me. Gifts of all sorts were bestowed there by God. From Holy Spirit whisperings on the wind, to rest for my aching, weary feet, to sweet birdsong, to the setting sun painting the sky in pale shades of pink, orange, yellow and purples just above tiled rooftops each evening − that no doubt inspired many an artist’s paintbrush down through the millennia.


But, I wasn’t the only one who sought shelter above the noise and hubbub of the world below. The skyline of Aix was literally dotted with rooftop retreats of every shape and size. Shuttered windows, flung open to let the evening breezes blow through, had pots with herbs and flora tucked just outside into whatever little niche could be found at roof's edge. Any space that could be transformed into livable space was complete with table, chairs and flower pots that filled every nook and cranny.




As I gazed out on all those safe havens above the city, Psalm 84:1-3 came to mind. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord. How I long to be there, my soul faints to enter... Even the sparrow has found a home and the swallow a nest for herself in your presence. How blessed they are to live and sing there!” 


I picked up my journal and wrote: “Seeking shelter from the heat of the day and the hubbub of the world seems to come naturally to us no matter where we live. But, I can’t help but wonder if the same could be said of our longing for you, God. Does my soul...do our souls...faint to enter your presence after a wearying day? Is that my...our...first thought...to collapse into the shade of your sheltering presence?


Precious Father in heaven,

Thank you that you provide a 'rooftop refuge' for each one of us...physically and spiritually. May we seek solace in the days ahead not only for our weary bodies, but, for our souls, in your loving presence.



5The Lord is your Protector.
   The Lord stands by your side, shading and protecting you.
The sun cannot harm you during the day,
    and the moon cannot harm you at night.

Psalm 121


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