A Sense of Place


Where are your places? Where do you find yourself most firmly rooted? Where do you go when life is too much and you need to breathe?

Lately, I have found myself at sea, and without a fixed place or time for reflection, for working on my projects and plans, and  for rest. My husband is working out of our bedroom, the children have grown and their projects and pursuits seem to have taken over every corner of the house and yard. In each of my “spots” someone is sure to find me after a few minutes and , while I love my children dearly, sometimes a mother just needs a minute or twenty to organize her thoughts or just sit and be.

We have been here (mostly) at home now for almost two and a half months and I think in some ways it has been a blessing and in others it has been an amazing trial. For one thing, it is not a very big space, even when we add in the green space in the middle of our street (the cars go one way on one side and the other way on the other) and the park at the end of the street while large (700 acres) is really only useful for the older two children who can go and explore the creeks. The house is also fairly small, and we are all rather intense personalities who sometimes just need to be away from each other which can be difficult to manage.  On the other hand, being home so much has encouraged us all to be more creative in managing the space and more diligent in keeping it uncluttered and picked up so that we don’t feel crowded together. There has been much more enthusiasm for the garden and yard and the English Cottage Garden that I have had in my mind all this time, is finally coming to fruition.  There is a certain kind of settling in that has happened with the physical spaces we inhabit.

I see a similar kind of settledness developing in the spirits of the younger children. The limitations of being in this space with these materials has inspired them to try new things with what is at hand. They quarrel but there is an incentive to “make up” again when your sibling is the one available to play with. The uninterrupted rhythm of days upon days at home has been a benefit although I can see that my extroverts in particular are starting to suffer from the lack of social interaction.

There is something to be learned I think, about our interior geography from the way that we interact with our external geography. If we are constantly “on the go” within our physical location, constantly seeking out new places and new stimulation then our souls are likely also to be restless. If our souls are restless we are more likely to try to soothe them with new places to go, new friends, new vistas laid before our physical sight as we try to draw the eyes of our souls away from the anxieties, the regrets, and the frenetic activities that drive us.

What if we chose a different path?

What if we took that feeling of restlessness as a sign that there was a need to find rest- even to force ourselves to rest? What if – as mothers in community- we could say to each other “I am restless and ill at ease, will you hold space for me, help me to hold space for myself so that I can satisfy my soul by deep interior work?”

Holding space is sacred work- sometimes spiritual as we hold each other in prayer and love from afar, sometimes eminently practical as we bring a meal, dig a garden, take the children for the day, or stand with a friend and wipe their tears. This is the vocation of community- to hold one another in the midst of our own sorrows and struggles and in the midst of our rejoicing, to gather in physical spaces and make them sacred spaces by the way in which we walk in love together.

“Bear ye, one another’s burdens,” says the Apostle, ” and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

And in another place Christ himself tells us that to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbors as ourselves is His Law that takes the place of the Law of Moses and the teachings of the Prophets.

Dear friends, how do you love yourselves? And how loving yourselves can you then love each other in the same way?

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