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Friday, July 1, 2016

The Peaceful Place

Everyone needs a peaceful place; a spot for reflection and retreat.  Although we are social animals, we also have the need to be alone; to escape the demands that society makes on us and to be wholly with ourselves, alone.  Henry David Thoreau wrote, "You think that I am impoverishing myself withdrawing from men, but in may solitude I...shall ere long burst forth a more perfect creature, fitted for a higher society (Journal, 8 February 1857).

My peaceful place is the backyard.  It is in the backyard that I spend my free time tending to my summer garden (tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, beans, peppers, etc.,); caring for the soil, pulling weeds, giving them water and nutrients, nurturing them and helping them grow into the plants they are supposed to be (eventually providing me with vegetables for my table).  Sometimes this is hot, hard work.  But at the end of the day, although I am sweaty, dirty and tired, I look over the garden and I hear the voice of God; not an audible voice, but an inward voice; not a voice of words, but a voice of assurance.  And the silent voice of God fills me.  And the peace of God overwhelms me.

When I need rest from my labors or just a quiet place to reflect, I retreat to my patio, a place that my wife and I have filled with flowering plants (roses, mandevillas, gladiollas, dahlias) ferns, and green shrubs.  We have hung hummingbird feeders on the pergola and bird feeders among the plants and on a window of our house.  My son built a fountain that bubbles not far away.  I can sit at a table there and prepare my sermon notes or reflect on things I have read, or just sit and watch the birds feeding.

Psychologists have long recognized that humans need solitude.  Solitude gives us the chance to shut down, to reconnect ourselves with that silent voice, to focus our thoughts or to clear our minds, to rediscover our own voice that has been lost among the many voices, and to recharge our batteries.

You can find your peaceful place in your backyard, or by simply getting up early and going into a room and shutting the door.  And when you do, don't turn on the T.V.  Don't listen to music.  Listen to the silence.  Listen to the silent voice, the whisper of God.

And if you do, you will "burst forth a more perfect creature."

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