The place I used to feel safest was when I was held close in the strong arms of my dad.
With stomach muscles weakened by vomiting so that standing upright felt like being stretched on a rack, crossing the short distance across the landing from bedroom to bathroom after a bout of tonsillitis was exhausting. So my dad would get me to stand on his feet, wrap my arms around his middle leaning my head against his tummy, while he held me and ‘walked’ me to where I needed to go.
I can still remember the smell and itchy softness of his jumper against my cheek, the jiggle of how he took deliberately small steps to allow for my shorter legs, the warmth and security I felt holding onto him.
I’ve long outgrown being ‘walked’ on his feet and his dementia and fading strength mean I’m more likely to be supporting him these days. I hope that he feels security in my arms now.
But I still have the reminder and echo of that childhood safety and comfort whenever I rest my head on the shoulder of my husband or one of my grown sons – the same strong torso to lean into, the same strong arms encircling me, the same knowledge that here is a man who loves me.
And they are not the only ones I can rely on for that sense of safety:
‘There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
who rides the heavens to your help
and through the skies in his majesty.
The eternal God is a dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms’. (Deuteronomy 33.26-27)