I took this picture several years ago in a park we have here in the north end of my home town. There are geese, and ducks, and lovely flowers, trees, a lagoon with fish, a waterfall, and a drive that goes through the whole thing. There is a place called the Castle, which has an open play area for kids and a semi-enclosed area to eat, or host events. At Christmas, the whole park is decorated with lights and villages, and of course, Santa has his own place, and there is live entertainment on some nights. It is a place that, from childhood, meant fun, and beauty, and a place of escape.
Isn’t it interesting how one little picture can bring back so many memories?
In the live-streamed morning devotion today, the pastor doing the devotions this week asked, “where was the prettiest place you can remember being?” That was hard, because, even though I haven’t traveled a lot, there have been so many places that have touched me by their beauty. But the one scene that popped into my mind was something I saw when I was in my twenties, taking a vacation with an aunt, and we were driving through Kentucky. In one section, there was acre after acre of glorious green pasture, lined with white fence, and black horses either posing for us or running around like kids with too much energy. It was amazing. Of course, it was horses, which I have loved, also since a kid. There were horses across the road from us that I spent a lot of time just talking to. Sometimes sketching. Sometimes in the winter, helping my Dad check their water and feed for the owners who couldn’t make the drive up our slick hill.
As I sit looking out the window to the neighborhood, hearing the lawnmowers, seeing more and more traffic as our community has opened up a bit, I find myself replaying the good memories, and thinking about the possibility of reliving some of them. But I’m not twenty-something anymore, and I have no vehicle to go to the park, any of the parks here in town. So I look out the window at the pretty flowers, bushes, and trees in this corner of my world. And I thank God for the gift of having the view to enjoy.
And I find myself thinking about how places, when I was younger, were places of peace, and areas of escape from the chaos, large or small, of the world where I existed. And I wonder, when my time on this world is done, even though I won’t need a place of escape, because I will be in a perfect location, I wonder if I will still enjoy animals, and the colors of nature, and that sense of rightness that comes with them.
Heaven. Better than any memories, I am sure. Meanwhile, whatever I need right here and now, whatever ‘A place of …?’ might be, I have all I need with Jesus, my Lord, my God.