When I was a young child, I heard someone say that everyone should have a safe place, a secret location where they could go to get away, relax and reflect. It seemed like wise advice, so I set out to find one for myself.
I had several secret places over the years. One of my first was on the edge of our home's roof, nestled within a tree's branches. From this lofty location, I could observe the happenings of my neighborhood, the people coming and going, my siblings and friends playing, the cars passing. I felt as if I had taken a step back from participation in this world before me. I could more clearly see how I fit into my neighborhood, my family and my other associations. I also discovered how crucial God's role was in keeping it all in balance, how He was an essential element of each of my worlds. I always climbed down from that tree a little more at peace with myself and my surroundings.
Another safe spot was along the side of my house. There were some concrete steps there that my father had built into a concrete block wall along the cool, shadowy north side. They connected our property to that of our immediate neighbor, but they were located at a point along the boundary line that never made sense to me. Perhaps Dad built it for me to use in just this way. It was more quiet than the tree and I could spend great lengths of time in undisturbed reflection. There was not much to look at — just a water softener and a crawl space entrance — but that freed my mind to sort out my life without visual distraction.
One other escape location was in our back yard at an intersection of the concrete block walls that separated all the homes in our tract. I could comfortably sit on top of a lower wall with my back against a taller perpendicular partition, just out of sight of everyone. Again, I could spend a few moments at rest and try to make sense of the ever-changing world of a teenager.
I still try to have a safe place or two. Right now, one of them is the stop of the stairs in my house, from which I can overlook several rooms. It's a lot like that first tree. I think about my job, my family, my ministry, time management, finances and anything else that needs attention. A lot of these moments are spent quietly dialoguing with God. I rely on Him to figure out the parts of my life that are too tough for me. And He often shares His insights with me during quiet times in my safe place.
Do you have a secret place? Maybe you don't need a physical one like I do. But I think we all need somewhere we can go to momentarily escape, relax and reflect. When your ministry, family, health and other priorities are in perspective, it sure makes the sun shine brighter, the birds sing more on key, your heart pound a little softer and everyone around you just a little more bearable.
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