in your place

For several years now, my understanding of “place” has been developing.  That is to say, where we live, work, worship, and play matters.  My thinking on this is still relatively scattered, and I’ll share some auto-biographical comments in this post.  But my thoughts were stirred again when I came across this article.  It is a little dense, but it should appeal to the poet, farmer, and theologian alike.  I’m not suggesting that those are mutually exclusive categories either.  Most theology would likely be improved by a healthy dose of poetry…  and farming.  I digress.  Read the article.  You won’t might not be sorry.

I was also reminded of a friend in Seattle who is pushing on this question in a highly rigorous fashion, albeit from a somewhat different angle.  In fact, it was living in Seattle that the wheels first began to turn on this.  Alison and I were living in a suburb some twenty minutes (over thirty in traffic) away from work and worship.  I realize that in today’s society, traveling long distances to do either of those activities (and a host of others) isn’t uncommon.  But the thought was firmly lodged in my mind…  there is something different about actually being in a community.  “In” being more than just a preposition of location, but carrying the full significance of all that “in” possibly can.  “In” in the sense of “fully invested in.”

So when we moved from Seattle to here, living in close proximity to the place I would work and we would worship (which for me happen to be the same place) was a high value for Alison and me.  Even the choice for where our children would go to school was driven largely by the same conviction.  It is right across the street from the church, and while it isn’t “the” school, it is the school in the community to which we felt called to sink roots.  So we bought a house that is within walking distance from all the above.

I couldn’t be more grateful that we were led/compelled to choose this home.  The house itself is nothing special, but as they say in business – “location is everything.”  We could have built a life in nearly any home in our city, but we have done so here.  This few block radius is by and large where life happens for us, and so there is a deep sense of connectedness to our (holy?) place.  Our home is centrally located in the city, which means it is highly accessible for friends and family and on the way to anywhere they might be going.  It is affordable, simple, warm, and sufficient.  It truly is and has been God’s provision for us.

I’m not saying that this is the house we’ll live in for the rest of our lives.  There are numerous reasons for considering moving… where our children attend school is starting to spread geographically, our family has grown – not just numerically – but in the sheer volume they take up, not to mention my on-going fascination with forming an intentional-missional-community.  But every time the question of moving comes up, we always end up responding…  “Why would we want to move from here?  This is our place.”  With an appropriate stress on each word of that sentence.

When you have eaten and are satisfied,
praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

Deuteronomy 8:10

(grossly out of context, but there is some truth for us in there.)

4 Replies to “in your place”

  1. I meant to include this Wendell Berry quote in the post, but didn’t find the place for it. So ponder this one a bit…
    “There are no unsacred places;
    there are only sacred places
    and desecrated places.”

  2. I believe that is a major blog faux paus…to comment on your own writing without being probed…1st offense is light, but a 2nd, us lifetime bloggers will have to put our foot down. Nonetheless, I am thankful that we share our community.

  3. In our longing for perfect equality, for everyone and everyWHERE to be the same, for every religion and believe to hold just as much weight, even in my half-joking, half-longing for Hell to just be “timeout” until God rescues everyone to redemption, we miss out on the real good. We miss out on God’s real and living ability to gift certain people and places. I miss out on the incredible, true, and consequential gift of free-will.

    I may have preferred your post to the article that inspired it, and I may have found myself reading and rereading several lines of poetry, but I loved the main idea. I love thinking about “place”. I love knowing that I’ve found that place right now in my life. And I love that we have something to offer in all of this:

    “You make yourself a place;
    You make yourself a way
    For love to reach the ground”

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