“Where is your favourite place on earth?” I asked my wife when we first met. Without the turning of a shadow, she said “My Grandparent’s farm”
“Why?” I asked. It turned out that this is the place where she spent her early years; those years where the sense of innocence and new discovery filled the child’s mind with wonder. In the small village is where her grandparents lived. It had a large garden where she played hide-and-seek with friends, cousins, and siblings. The garden was filled with mango, guava and other wonders that intrigued a child before responsibilities such as school, study and other burdens of life kicked in. It is where she found beauty and peace in the days before the outside world with all its anxieties flooded in. It was the place where you could just be a child and experience a cosy feeling of hygge. But like all childhood experiences, reality must be faced.
I visited the village with her recently when we were in the Philippines. I must agree; it’s a place I would be happy to live. The village people are kind, hospitable and happy to welcome the stranger. I felt at peace in the place.
My happy place is a beautiful island on Scotland’s west coast called the Island of Bute. I was raised in the industrial town of Govan in Glasgow where dark tenements blocked natural light and the air was filled with the sounds of a bustling street below where intrusive noise such as riveters, angry hammers, and the burning neurotic frizzle of torches welding metal to form mighty vessels wafted in from the nearby industries. It was a place where ungroomed dogs roamed the streets. It was a place where there always seemed there were better places to live.
However, every summer I would spend the eight weeks of school holidays on Bute. We had a cabin with no running water and a simple chemical toilet. But these inconveniences never came to the notice of a child. It was a virtual paradise with no industrial footprint. It’s the place I learned to fish and roam the deep countryside. We would build swings on trees, collect berries and swim in the lake.
But there is one memory of the place that dances in my head like the Northern Lights. One evening, all my friends left for Glasgow and I felt as lonely as a pocket.
I sat with Loch Ascog on my right and the wondrous Kyles of Bute on my left and an open sky before me. With such beauty, I became conscious of my spiritual need. I communed with God and as I was doing so, shooting stars crossed the sky. I no longer felt alone.
I believe that when we have this happy place, it is God’s way of telling us he has a place like that for us Where that will be I don’t know. Jesus spoke of paradise, heaven and the meek inheriting the earth. First step, be faithful. Remember, God is satisfying the desire of all creation the Psalmist predicts,