It is always striking to me, when I drive into a different state or country, how the geography seems to change. The trees, the horizon line, the foliage, and the geography as a whole, are unique to each different place. I cannot see the boundaries between the various states, but the difference becomes clear as I travel from one to another. Likewise, I feel a sense of home when the trees of Maine appear around me on the highway when I return. These places where I have traveled, the ordinary and the spectacular, have become the background for my memories. The differences in places often mark differences in legs of my journey in life.
Many people travel to the holy land to see the places where Jesus, and the events of the Bible stories took place. They say it is very moving to be in the same place where these people once stood. Because the events in the Bible are recorded as having happened in a particular place and time, we have a place to go to and experience such a feeling. We also then add our memories to the place as we, too, stand there. The holy land is then not just about the figures in scripture but also about our own journeys as well. And as we return to our homes we are reminded that the holy land is not just in the middle-east, but beneath our feet.
Experiencing nature is one of the principle ways we discover and restore our souls. Simply by observation and reflection we can find our whole self connected to all life.
Did Jesus feel a welcome in his soul when he saw the streets of his hometown? He certainly used his observations of nature as the palate for his parables. The love of God in Christ happened in a unique place and with particular people. These events were not imagined, but rather experienced by people who were affected enough to write it down and share how the events in these places changed their lives. In doing so God, opened the door for all particular and peculiar places to be the place where God can be present, where descendants can come, and stand where we now stand, and join their story with ours.