Am I the only person with whom God uses fandom shorthand?
A while back, I was re-reading Bernard of Clairvaux’s sermons on Psalm 91 and reached this passage in the ninth sermon of the series:
“Thou hast made the Most High thy refuge.” To this asylum the seducer has no access; to this height the calumniator cannot mount; to this retreat the wicked accuser of the brethren finds no admittance. For, as you remember from the beginning of the psalm, these words are addressed to him “that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High,” fleeing thither from the “pusillanimity of spirit and the storm.” We have a double necessity for running to this refuge and dwelling in this aid, because as the Apostle says, there are “combats without (and) fears within.” There would be less need of having recourse to the Lord, if either our interior strength could support courageously the tumult outside, or if external peace allowed our pusillanimity to remain undisquieted. “Thou hast made the Most High thy refuge.” My brethren, let us often run for safety to this refuge. It is a strongly fortified place, where we shall have nothing to fear from the enemy. Would to God we were allowed to remain there always! But that is not for this present time. What is now a refuge shall, however, become one day a dwelling-place, and an everlasting dwelling-place. Meanwhile, since we are not as yet permitted to make our abode there, let us at least visit it often. For against every temptation, against every tribulation, against every kind of necessity, this city of refuge is open to shelter us; the mother’s arms are extended to welcome us; the “clefts of the rock” are ready to receive us; “the bowels of the mercy of our God” invite us to enter. Little wonder, then, if he does not succeed in escaping from his enemies, whosoever despises such a refuge.
And in my spiritual ear, God whispered, “Batcave.”
To understand why that one word made me bawl for a good half hour, you have to know a bit about what it means in Supernatural.
See, we’re used to thinking of the cleft of the rock looking like this:
And that makes sense, given the origin of the phrase (God putting Moses in such a place in the Sinai desert and covering him there with His hand while His glory passed by so that Moses wouldn’t be fried). But what if it looked more like this?
This unassuming door in the middle of nowhere leads to the secret bunker built by the Men of Letters, a fictional secret society (defunct until Supernatural‘s eighth season) dedicated to the preservation of knowledge about the supernatural. One character calls it “the safest place on earth”; it’s warded against every form of evil, and the only door will open only with the right key. Inside, it is indeed a refuge:
But there are also incredible treasures hidden here, not least of which is a fabulous library that holds extremely rare books that had otherwise been lost for good!
Upon discovering this library, Sam and Dean react thus:
And Dean says, “Sammy, I think we found the Batcave!”
Understand: The Winchester brothers have been homeless virtually all their lives, since a demon murdered their mother and nearly burned down their house when Dean was four and Sam was six months old. The last library that could come close to matching this one, privately owned by their friend and mentor Bobby Singer, was destroyed by monsters about a year and a half earlier, and Bobby himself is dead by this point. He’d made copies of many of his books, but given that the boys live out of their car, they don’t have access to most of those books on a daily basis. Yet suddenly they receive this, incomparable treasure and impenetrable safety, bequeathed to them by the last of the Men of Letters, their own long-lost grandfather who gave his life to save theirs. Indeed, another episode implicitly links it to Bag End:
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.
–J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Comfort, safety, stability: yes, God offers us all these things when we make Him our refuge. But there’s so, so much more that He yearns to give us–not necessarily physical luxury, but wisdom and insight and the chance just to be with Him, certainly not in the way we will be in Heaven, but as much as we can be in this life. The refuge isn’t just about what’s outside, what we’re running from and what He’s keeping at bay. There’s priceless treasure on the inside, too, spiritual food and drink… and even the living, loving heart of the Rock of Ages Who is cleft for you and me.