We lay side by side and stared up into the towering tree. Dancing maple leaves tried unsuccessfully to form an umbrella beneath the Colorado sun. The invasive heat covered us like a comfortable weighted blanket. Somewhere behind our faded wooden fence- the fence that sagged like a stooped old woman- a lawnmower’s throaty voice harmonized with our mini backyard waterfall. An overhead airplane and squealing toddlers from next door joined in to create a neighborhood lullaby. I battled to keep my eyes open.
The freckle-faced girl next to me fought no such battles. “Grandma, ” she turned my way. “This place is special.” The awe in her voice surprised me.
“Well,” I opened my eyes and faced her. “We did do a good job, didn’t we?”
Together we had lugged old branches and small pieces of lumber into a corner of the backyard and formed a flat, architectural sketch of a home, with several bedrooms and a living area. We painted the branches and wood with wet pieces of mega sized chalk – mostly hot pink. Then we scoured the shed and discovered a leftover piece of linoleum from a recent bathroom remodel and carried it to “our room” in the house. A few pillows later, we lay on our backs on the linoleum and I felt myself dozing, grateful for an afternoon date with my second-born grandchild.
“No, Grandma, I mean your house is special.”
I leaned up on one arm and looked at her, taken aback by the passion in her voice.
If you have visited my house, you’ll know why. It’s a simple house, an old house, a house in constant state of something needing repairs. But my granddaughter doesn’t see it that way. In her eyes, it is a special place. A comforting and familiar place where she is cherished.
‘Cause the Littles? When their worlds fall apart, they look to the grown-ups. They need safe, familiar in the midst of upheaval. Like many children in 2020, my granddaughter has had a lot happen in the past year, and some of the changes make my grown-up heart hurt. But she knows when she enters our front door, she can lay it all down. We play silly games, and read Frank was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance for the nine hundredth time followed immediately by our latest favorite, The Rainbow Fish. We make popcorn, and paint. We dance and play hide and seek. We sit still and we talk. And sometimes we create our own little space beneath a maple tree.
As adults, during this crazy season of Covid-19 and shut-downs and isolating and remote learning/teaching and racial tensions and volatile, fiery political battles we can find ourselves reeling from the pressures and uncertainties, like we’ve been on the merry-go-round too long and can’t find our footing. We want to throw up. Then we take a deep breath and remember we’ve made it through all of our worst seasons.
And those of us who are Believers are able to remind ourselves that we can trust the Lord. This faith enables us to find balance again. The ungainly gait becomes steadier until we once again find ourselves able to skip and run.
Like my granddaughter, when everything is spinning, when the waters are roaring and the mountains are shaking, I too need a special place – a safe space where I can lay my burdens and my fears down and just be. I find that place in daily walks with my husband, in coffee dates with my band of longtime friends, in crafting, in hanging out with my beautiful grandchildren, and on old dirt roads.
But mostly I find it by stilling my spirit and remembering where my true refuge is during troubling times.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be
carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah.
Psalm 46:1-3 NKJV
How about you? Do you have a “special place” where you recharge spiritually, emotionally, and physically so that you can be that safe place for someone else in need? YOU are important, so please take care of yourself.
Love and blessings,