Place

One of my favorite places in the world is Broadmeadow Brook.  It’s an Audobon Sanctuary, sort-of a privately owned park.

I’ve been hiking the trails at this place for years.   One of the things that I love about it is that the begining of the trail is nestled quite close to civilization.  Leaving the world behind is this gradual transformation.  I am prepared slowly to enter a different world.  This is somehow more powerful than suddenly being fully isolated from houses, streets, and roads.

The other thing I love about it is that I know it.  Deeply and intimately.  I have hiked it in all four seasons.  I have hiked it alone and I have hiked it with friends.  I have hiked it in the depths of my most lonely sadnesses.  I have hiked it so fully immersed in the presence of God that I thought I might burst.

In some way I have formed a relationship with this place.  Just as my own spirits have ebbed and flowed at different stages of my life, so to does this place change through the seasons and different weather patterns.  I have it seen it jungle-like after the rains, over run by ferns and so very green that even the most-frequently walked trails are carpeted in moss.  I have it seen it at fall’s end, naked tree branches reaching longingly into the sky, leaves (of course) crunching under my feet.  I have been at this place when it’s so hot and sticky that my t-shirt sticks to me and the mosquitos make kamikaze runs at my ears.  I have been there bundled up, when everything is white, white, white, and blanketed in snow. I have crossed the river when it is little more than a mud pit, and I have crossed it when it was so over-full that I wasn’t sure it was a wise thing to do because the rocks I usally leap across were mostly under water.

And yet, for all these changes, it is of course the same place.  There is this tree that looks like it was shattered somehow, and yet there is no charring, so I don’t think it was lightening.  There is a rock formation.  There are these benches, and place where the trail is on a raised platform so that you don’t traipse through a swamp.  These are constants in my relationship with this place. 

Everyone should have a relationship with a place.  Not just a relationship with the buildings that they spend lots of time in.  But relationship with a place.   When we are involved in relationships we value both the constants and the changes and we know that it is always there for us.  We don’t just appreciate what the “other” can do for us.  We are simply thankful that it exists at all, that the “other” is in the world.

There’s a whole post (at least) in what scripture has to say about all this.  If I were to boil my thoughts down to a sentence, on this topic, I think I would say this: it’s not so much that the bible says it’s a good thing to have a relationship with a place.  It seems to me that it’s almost taken as a given, it’s assumed that we will.

And there’s also a post (at least) in what hike was like yesterday.  God was so very present yesterday.  and I felt like I really needed that. 

Perhaps I will get to more details about those things.  But that’ll be later.

Do you have a relationship with any places?  What is that place like?

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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