Sunday, July 17, 2016
Sunday Afternoon Tea - A Sense of Place in the Age of Terror
The scenes from the TV screen assaulted me once again as terror was in the headlines. I sensed a desire to turn the scenes off and forget them mixed with an overwhelming need to look and feel and pray. The world is full of pain and anxiety.
Soon afterwords, I was walking to the county road to pick up our newspaper when I stood still and closed my eyes and listened. Don't worry, cars rarely drive the small gravel lane and if they do I'd hear them.
Two years of heavy spring rains have transformed the forest to an ecosystem so thick with trees and bushes and brush that one cannot see more than a few feet. Leaving me surrounded by lush green and the sound of the inhabitants of the forest. Bird songs abound in this environment. The difference between my world and their world came upon me with wave after wave of emotions.
On one hand, thankfulness for my Place that... with all the hardships of walking this sod as a finite human... God has indeed given me boundary lines in pleasant places. There is the forest, the farm across the road with the red barn, the country road which can take me into town if I turn in one direction and further out past cornfields and pasture lands should I turn in in the other.
I delight in cornfields close to the harvest stage and if the scenic route is taken... horses at pasture will bring a smile. They make me as happy as the sounds of the city, the multitudinous of restaurants, the museums, the art, the vibe of New York do to one born in Manhattan.
We all have a need for Place. For many years I lived in places far away from where I grew up. I learned to quickly find the grocery store I liked best, the closest gas station with the best prices, a park or two for picnics, an antique shop, definitely the library, a coffee shop, and the best restaurant for breakfast out on a budget.
That is what one does when they move. They make a Place where they are the best they can... and if it is difficult to make a Place in the outside world then we definitely can do so within our homes.
As I've written, I was very much influenced by Edith Schaeffer and in her writings she talked quite often about the importance of continuity in a home. That we should have things we love surrounding us from one place to another which bring with them an immediate sense of home and permanence... even if we are in a hotel room.
The Schaeffers moved to Europe immediately after WWII and for many years felt the affects of terror on a people. Not only in moving to a different land herself but in the many conversations over the years with those who had seen war and destruction.
I love how Edith gives us permission to feel peace with our stuff. Never too much stuff and never putting stuff above God. For if our peace came from our stuff, should God allow them to be taken from us... so would go our peace. No, if anyone knew Peace is a Person, Edith knew.
But we were created to nest. To fluff our nest with the stuff that brings us joy just by its existence. True Peace is the presence of the Lord in our home and nothing ever takes the place of Him. However, we are made in His image and in that way we delight in what causes Him pleasure.
What brings pleasure to God... other than those of us who make the decision to love Him? Think of what He has made in abundance. The flowers and delicious food and the forest and the ocean and the rivers and puppies and kitties and cool breezes on a hot day. He allows the red cardinal to stay in our backyard in snowy winters and hummingbirds to drink nectar from plants in summer's heat.
He created man to make music. He gave us the ability to create... to find pleasure in cooking and drawing and painting and sewing and making jewelry and taking pieces of fabric to sew back together into things of beauty.
God could not take terrorism from the world. It will exist until His return and the Book tells us it will increase as the time of His return comes nearer. That is just the way it is. This is not Heaven, yet. The New Earth is to come. Perfection has not arrived.
That for which our heart aches as we long for Eden is still to come.
Instead He has given us that which was part of His very being, His personality so to speak. That the Creator gave us the ability to create is absolutely amazing if you stop to think of it. To make something from almost nothing.
With that ability comes the overwhelming need of Place. As terror increases in the world, so our need to nest will increase. To create as much a place of peace and beauty as possible within the walls of our homes... whether they are big or small or in a forest or on a lake or next to a river or an apartment in a major city.
I have nested in delightful boundaries such as I live now but also in a very large city. I have lived next to drunks and most likely a meth lab. I have enjoyed a large house in a beautiful neighborhood and months spent in one room of a hotel. I have loved where I lived and hated where I lived.
However, in all of these I made a Place. However possible... a home. A nest to fluff whether with just a few photos of those we love and our favorite books in a small space or in a house where the rooms are the canvas of my art.
I nest by tying on an apron and creating good food on a budget that one smells as soon as the door is open. That is my goal, really. When those I care about walk through the front door, I want a sense of Place. Home. Nesting. Aromas mingled with sights that are familiar. Perhaps a comfortable clutter of projects in process and the baking dishes soaking in the sink but otherwise a place of order.
A place no matter how small that those we care about can find a good book or a well loved movie to watch after a difficult day. A favorite board game can be pulled out and enjoyed with a simple snack of popcorn. Perhaps flowers and herbs on the deck to gaze upon when doing dishes, my own Eden put together for a small number of dollars.
Making a Place includes having the fixings of family favorites in the pantry so chocolate chip cookies can be whipped up at the last minute or a child's favorite meal when they come home for a visit. Perhaps their favorite music in the background. Nothing expensive but that which brings a sense of Place, of home, of peace.
We may not be able to change the world but as Christians who know the Prince of Peace, the Creator of all, we can certainly pray for those whom God places on our hearts in the world and for those near to us... we can provide a Place in the midst of the terror.
Image: Cotswolds Evening by Robert Duncan