Love of Place: Finding Home after the Wanderings

Posted: 29 November 2013 in Faith and Life

I was reading Robert Thayer’s Life Place: Bioregional Thought and Practice in which he builds hypotheses about what it means to be grounded (my word, not his) by talking about my “home”.  And I had to stop because I was overwhelmed…

Overwhelmed by a sense of love—as tangible as any I have experienced—for my nearby.

Can one “love” a place? 

Yes, I say. 

As one yearns for more time with one’s beloved, one can yearn for one more sun-drenched day in late autumn in the fields of the valley that is my backyard.  Like the proud father of a growing child, one can tell the stories of the amazing abilities of this land to heal and revive.

Sometimes I wonder if it is the geometry of the place that reaches into my heart (I love straight lines and order).  The fields and roads in a grid create peace, clarity and predictability.  But then.  Then I ride a contour or wind through a valley and find the unpredictable—the lack of symmetry—even more comforting than the lines.  And I rest by the road out of breath and panting in thirst for more. More and more.  A thirst happily unquenched.IMG_0041

I remember when I first came here and (this sounds strange) I stopped one day on my bike and actually (it’s true) pinched myself to see if I was really here.  Here in this too flat, sun-scorched, valley.  Here, where the hills and mountains beckon east and west but never approach the stacked heat of a summer afternoon.  Here, along the packed earth fields and trickling creeks. 

I have loved a woman going on 35 years, children for more than half that, and grandchildren for a smaller wedge of time. 

I know love. 

It is companionship and trust.  It is perseverance and hope.  It is a longing to be with and for and to.  And I feel and know of all of that for this place. 

It caught me by surprise and I blush at my schoolboy rush of emotion—my longing to merge with it, be rooted in its soil.  To flow forever into its history and narrative. 

I remember as a child running to the far end of the yard in the Pennsylvania piedmont, singing as I ran “California here I come…” and there was a deep longing in a space near my heart.  I knew not what I sang and that land was far and I was not sure it existed.  Now I know that even then—even then—I  “discerned” that there was a place where I could find place (does that make sense?)

This is my life-place.

 

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