One of my favorite places to go with my wife was Cochem in Germany. Over a millennium ago, men founded this town. Though today’s atmosphere was probably created more by the Chamber of Commerce than by history, when you’re there you feel like you step back hundreds of years in time.
Phyllis and I accidentally discovered it in 1988 as we wandered alongside the Moselle River, driving up from nearby Luxembourg. Friends had offered to watch the kids so we could get away. We spent the night in a bed and breakfast in Cochem, and the next day went to see the Eltz castle in the forest northeast of town.
The little boy and the historian in me fell in love and Phyllis and I went back several other times, creating vivid memories together—the night of the festival with all the oom-pa-pa music, and the people in old German costumes, for example.
Funny, but we often connect places with good times or bad times. That is a good place for me. A really good place.
I’m a bit like that about the place where I read my Bible and pray in the morning. Just like some Christians are attached to a certain pew, I like to meet the Lord at a spot where I have memories.
At the moment it’s the back deck of our house (it’s really the back porch but I said “deck” so that you younger readers would know what I’m talking about). Before I get my work day gets started, I love to sit out there. The quietness soothes me. Note, “quietness,” still includes birds singing and crickets cricketing. We’ve got a couple of Robins who think they own the place and we are their renters.
The day has intruded on the night; the sunshine is fresh and soft and I can get centered with God for what’s ahead.
I love that place. When cold weather sets in, I’ll retreat to my home office, which I also love. When you’ve had good times in a place, you like to be in it. It helps me get up in the morning, knowing that I’ll be someplace I love with Someone I love.
That and coffee.
It just seems like God is there waiting on you. Some people have talked about “thin places.” That’s where eternity and time move close together. “There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places, that distance is even smaller,” says Sylvia Maddox.
During patriarchal times Abraham, Isaac and then Jacob had places where they met God in a special way. They built altars and went back when they really needed to hear from God or wanted to express their thanks.
There’s nothing magic about a place, but it seems there are places for each one of us where it’s easier to focus in on God.
“God spoke to Jacob: “Go back to Bethel. Stay there and build an altar to the God who revealed himself to you when you were running for your life from your brother Esau.” (Gen. 35:1, The Message)
« Dieu dit à Jacob: Lève-toi, monte à Béthel, et demeures-y; là, tu dresseras un autel au Dieu qui t’apparut, lorsque tu fuyais Ésaü, ton frère. » (Gen. 35 :1)
How about you? Do you have a favorite place to meet with God?
John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost, “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”