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A Place Apart A Place Apart
    by Cary Branscum

    The other day, not too long after Mother’s Day, I was pondering the meaning of the word “home.” It might conjure up pictures of the house in which you grew up. It might be a place that exists only in your dreams. For some, the word “home” conjures bad memories — I hope that’s not true for you. The word Mom has immediate connotations for all of us, as we think about our mothers, and all they mean to us.

    Home can sometimes be simply a place in our heart. No matter what your image of home, no matter where home is, I want to suggest this; you need a HOMEPLACE for your heart — a place you can sort through what is happening in your life, a “retreat” near by, anyplace place that lets you sort things out. Jesus had places like that. Perhaps it was a mountaintop, perhaps a desert place.

    Jesus and John the Baptist were close from the very beginning. John was the trailblazer, the Pioneer, the one who prepared the way for Jesus. One could tell John wouldn’t last long because of the way he spoke about the religious and political leaders of his day. He was as politically incorrect as any person could be, yet he was totally correct about the coming of the Kingdom of God. Sure enough, his mouth got him into trouble (he told the plain truth), and he was unceremoniously beheaded in prison. When Jesus heard this, in Matthew chapter 14, he left where he was, got into a boat, and went to a place away and apart from his ministry life. He had to sort it all out.

    We all need to go and sort things out sometimes, don’t we?

    Mother’s day reminded me of a mother I will always remember. Several years ago a funeral home called and asked me to perform a funeral. [They often did this on the spur of the moment, if the funeral needed to be done quickly, and if the family had no religious affiliation, I was willing to help. Sometimes people die and state no religious preference, and this is a way for a church to serve a family.] The day was sunny and beautiful in Fort Worth, in that certain way when the sun, breeze, and low humidity make for perfect driving weather. I drove to the funeral home with the wind in my hair, and was ready for anything.

    The funeral home usually handed me the obituary as I walked in the door, and I would have a little time to prepare. This time, instead of going by the office, the director waved me into the viewing room where the open casket was placed before the service. Inside, a young hispanic couple sat weeping, holding hands. I comforted them, then turned and looked into the casket. It was a baby; a newborn. A perfect little child, dressed in the softest velvet gown. The tiny white casket seemed made of clouds. I began shaking, totally unprepared for this. This precious angel seemed asleep, and I will always remember her tiny fingers gently wrapped around a beautiful rose bloom.

    Who comforts the preacher? How is this supposed to be handled in a moment?

We all need to go and sort things out sometimes, don’t we?
    Pulling myself together, I did the service, performed all the obligatory duties, and said goodbye to the shattered couple, myself a shattered wreck.

    Where did I go? I immediately went to my backyard patio to sit in silence and deal with my feelings. It was my desert place apart. After awhile, after a time of silence, a time of prayer and tears, I was able to get back to some form of routine. I often think about that couple, especially the mother. Each Mother’s Day I know she thinks about that precious angel. I know she has to have a desert place she goes to retreat and find solace.

    You probably remember your own stories about times you were caught offguard, or surprised, or upset by life events. What did you do to process those events? How did you pick up the shattered pieces?

    I can only encourage you to have “a place apart.” It should be a spot fairly close by — a quiet reflective place — but it needs to be a place that is especially your own. Perhaps a nearby park will do, or a favorite place in nature, or a quiet place near a running stream. You can even create a place like this in your home, no matter how small.

    I have a corner in the master bedroom that is mine. I have my favorite chair, side table, books, and music there. I have pictures of my family, candles if I choose to use them, and a little side window to let in the light. Headphones and ear plugs can shut out noise, and I can even nap there if I want. I love it. It’s great for me. All the stuff I have there has special meaning to me. It’s the place where I sort things out.

    You can create a spot like this in your home, and it’s a great time to do it. It needn’t be expensive. A comfortable chair (check Goodwill), a small table, a basket for books, candles are widely available, and lots of stores sell little decorative fountains that sound like a bubbling brook. Experiment with different things, shape, reshape, add and rearrange. Most important of all, invite God to come share this place with you. Let him know that it’s your place to be with him. It’s fun, relaxing, and spiritually refreshing to have such a place.

    Single or not, we all need some time away to be alone... especially to be alone with God in our homeplace. Don’t you think that if Jesus needed such a place, you do too!

So....
    Find your place apart...
        Make a HOMEPLACE for your heart...
            ...and your God!


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Related Heartlight Resources:
I Heard the Mourning Dove
Moving Beyond the Ashes
What Jesus Did - Matthew 14:13-14
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About the Author...
Cary Branscum, <cary@westover.org>, is the Singles minister at the Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas.

 
Title: "A Place Apart"
Author: Cary Branscum
Publication Date: May 30, 2000

 

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