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?