I’m not talking about vacation. I’m not nor will I ever be in a place where I can be whisked away to some tropical location at the drop of a hat, just don’t have that kind of money. While it would be nice, I don’t want to fool myself. I’m talking about when we need to unwind and detach, to clear our heads, to find shalom that we can’t find anywhere else. Where do we go?
I grew up with train tracks right behind my house. It wasn’t as noisy as you might think, but we did get used to the minor irritation. The train that ran behind the house was the New York – New Haven line as well as an Amtrak line that ran from New York further up the New England coast. On the other side of those tracks lay the place where I spent a good deal of my time alone, especially in my high school and college years.
It was a park with a lake and a pond. There were walking trails all around and although it was wedged between the train tracks and I-95, it provided an incredible amount of solace for me. Whenever I needed to get away and think or talk or cry, that’s the place where I would go. It seemed to be the best kept secret for my town, I very rarely ran into anyone else while I was there. That’s probably a good thing since my conversations with myself or with God were usually out loud.
Years have a way of clouding your memory when you leave certain experiences behind. It’s been a dozen years since I lived at the house where I could walk to that park. It’s been nearly four years since my parents moved from that same house. But it always stayed there, in the back of my mind, regardless of how many clouds surrounded it back there.
Life has not always afforded me the luxury of exploration, especially over the last few years. When it has, my exploration is generally limited to places that I hear of from others. So, it was with the place that I discovered which took me back to that other sacred space from so many years ago. Honestly, I think that my wife heard of it first from some other mothers of pre-schoolers. They were all keen on the playground there. It’s one of those “green” playgrounds made of recycled material and the ground around the play structures is rubberized, so it doesn’t hurt as much when you fall…..or when your kids fall.
Just a few yards from those playgrounds are the lakes for which the park is named. Now, if you’re from the Midwest, these lakes aren’t really lakes, they’re ponds. But it still holds the name Three Lakes Park and it’s around those “lakes” that I rediscovered that sacred space, the space that I connected with all those years ago, the space where I could talk things out.
I went there the other day. I needed it. I needed to talk, to myself and to God. I needed to drink in the surroundings. I needed to breathe in air that was somehow fresher or freer than the air of the enclosed spaces that I find myself frequenting all too often. I needed to find that shalom. And it was there that I found it.
Well, I guess it wasn’t technically there that I found it, but it helped me to remember where I find it. David, the king and shepherd and songwriter, wrote, “Truly my soul finds rest in God.” It was there that I remembered that I need to detach and find solace in God alone. It was there that I remembered that places like that help me to do just that. That’s where I go, and I need to keep going there. Chaos won’t stop, I will continue to encounter it, but I know where I can go to get away from it, albeit temporarily, it’s long enough that I can feel the restoration and rejuvenation take place.
So, where do you go?