A Sense of Place


IMG_2005-001There is a phrase echoing around in my mind, easier to describe than to define. A sense of place.

It is warm golden pine needles carpeting the ground, spicing the air with each cushioned footstep; shafts of sunlight dropped down through tree columns, alive with dancing dust and insects; a rhythmic sound, swelling and receding, growing louder as the ocean’s edge comes into view; once beyond the trees, drawing in big breaths of salt-rich air, then kicking off my shoes and burying my toes in the sand, more fully alive here than anywhere else.

By the ocean is where I derive my strongest sense of place, a locale for joyful contemplation when all goes well and for comfort when solace is sought. I don’t live near it anymore but in some tender corner of my heart it will always draw me. I was happiest there as a child and dream of living near it again someday.

“Place is where meaning, belonging, and safety come together under the covering of our best efforts at unconditional love,” writes author Randy Kilgore. “Place beckons us with memories buried deep in our souls. Even when our place isn’t perfect, its hold on us is dramatic, magnetic.”

Place, that idyllic memory evoked by emotions connected to it. For me it has become more a person than a physical setting. Yes, my heart responds to some places more than others, where special memories have their roots or beauty stirs me. At some point those places may be changed or even destroyed, but the Person who gives me the most secure, eternal sense of place will be forever present.

Jesus Christ said, “Abide in Me, and I will abide in you.” (John 15:4 NIV) What a strange concept that must have been to the disciples listening to Him. Abide? Live in? Take up residence in Jesus? When read in context of the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15, abiding in Jesus makes sense. He is our vine, our source of spiritual nourishment so we, the branch, can bear spiritual fruit. Important as spiritual fruit is, it is not the main reason for Jesus wanting us to abide in Him. His desire is for intimacy with His beloved child, a sense of connection only achieved by living as close to Him as possible. Abiding — when our inner spirit, the truest essence of who are, takes up residence in the heart of Jesus. It sounds a bit spooky, even supernatural. True spirituality is a mystery, but the practice of it is simple. Spend time with Jesus. Seek, long for, thirst after, engage, know, hear and respond to … Jesus. Find Him in His Word, talk to Him in prayer, listen for His voice in your spirit, live in Him.

The ocean shore gives me a sense of place because of significant personal epiphanies occurring there. But I have learned that my truest sense of place happens in my spiritual abode, the heart of Jesus, a place of love. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now abide in My love.” (John 15:9)


© Valerie Ronald and scriptordeus 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie Ronald and scriptordeus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Flipping Rocks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy bare feet sink satisfyingly in the wet sand along the sea edge, small waves tickling my ankles with each step. The ocean vista is beautiful to gaze upon but I find my attention drawn back to what is at my feet. Ordinary pebbles and rocks glow like rich jewels through a watery prism while shadows of driftwood and seaweed float in the shallows.

An outcrop of larger boulders halts my progress down the beach, diverting me to another favorite seaside activity. Just where the sea meets the sand I firmly grasp a plate-sized rock, flip it over and watch in delight as at least a dozen little crabs scurry for cover. They are vulnerable creatures without their sheltering rock. Their tiny crustacean instinct for survival sends them running for new protection. I pick one up to feel it tickle across my palm in its comedic sidewise gait. It drops from my hand to the sand, disappearing beneath another rock like its fellow crabs and it is as if they were never there. But I know beneath the next rock there will be more hiding.

There are times in my life when God has lifted the rock on a myriad of wounding memories I’ve long buried in the sands of my past, sending them scuttling for cover from the light of His omniscient eye. I don’t want to look at those memories. They still retain a distant whiff of their ability to wound and sadden and grieve, so I would rather they stay hidden and I get on with my present life. But there they are, waving their pincers at me …

My big, handsome sailor father passed out in an alcoholic stupor while a six year old cries herself to sleep.

A beautiful violet graduation gown pushed to the back of a closet, worn a few hours then discarded when I couldn’t face going alone.

Sitting in my car outside a lawyer’s office, trying to summon the courage to go in and seal the dissolution of  my  marriage which has succumbed to a slow, agonizing death, one betrayal at a time.

Can’t these wounds stay hidden in the dark, stuffed under a rock where I don’t have to see them? I’ve moved on, made a fresh start, built a new life. But then there is that gentle nudge, that insistent tug on my spirit. It’s time. Time to flip over the rock and let the Light of the world shine on the past: reveal, disempower, dwindle hurts until they hurt no more.

To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His.
He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.               Job 12: 13 & 22  NIV

When God shines the light of His love on the wounds of my past, they loose their potency. How do the wounds inflicted by sinful men stand a chance in the light of so great a love? Love like a mighty ocean sweeps clean the dark blots of pain and sorrow. They are absorbed into the limitless love of a limitless God.

Memories of sorrowful times will never be forgotten, but the pain has long ago dissolved. What is left is evidence of God’s faithfulness, provision, comfort and strength which carried me through. Someday every tear will be wiped from my eyes, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:4). The final rock will be flipped and all the scuttling little creatures of my past will be gone. Hallelujah.