For the last three days, I’ve been trying to find the time to get this post up. Between work, school, and keeping up with yard work, I’ve barely had two minutes. Until now.
A few days ago, I posted on the Ignatian principle of Finding God In All Things. Over the last several years, I’ve been able to successfully integrate this spiritual concept into my daily living. Well, most days…
Nobody’s perfect, right? Around this time last year, I was taking a course on Spiritual Practices. Taught by a Benedictine monk, I learned a great deal about both traditional and current practices of spiritual life. Although I had experienced many times, I had never heard the term spirituality of place before, and it resonated with me.
For many reasons, there is a sense of rootlessness in our culture today. Many people have frequently moved from place to place and live far away from their family and place or origin. At the same time, we’ve become more homogeneous. In his book Landscapes of the Soul, Robert Hamma writes “places look the same, and that sameness is often drab. A strip-mall is a strip-mall, whether it’s in Maine or California.”
Hamma goes on to talk about developing a spirituality of place. When we experience a setting, it creates a reaction in us. More often than not, it leads to recollections of past experiences. I know it’s that way for me.
In my little potted prayer garden pictured above, I have a terra-cotta image of Mary and Jesus. Bought in Florence, Italy, it reminds me of the many wonderful experiences I’ve had in that country. While sitting in this simple oasis each morning for prayer, this image also reminds me of my ongoing need to be grateful for the fact that I’m alive and can make a positive impact each day in the world, not for myself, but for God’s greater glory.
In more than one of the potted plants in the photo, a variety of geraniums find their home for several months. Geraniums remind me of my roots. When I was a young boy, my brother Bill used to take me to visit our grandparents on Saturday mornings.
Just outside their back porch sat a very large geranium plant. Although the passage of time sometimes leads to exaggeration, that plant must have been about 5×5. It was huge. I write about it because of a smell. I think my grandmother’s Saturday morning routine included watering her plants. This watering must have taken place shortly before our arrival, because, upon entering the back porch, we were hit with the smell of wet geranium. It’s a particular oder, and it was pungent.
Whenever I smell wet geraniums, I’m instantly transported to my grandparent’s house in Los Angeles. So, those plants in the little prayer garden just outside my kitchen door have helped me create a spirituality of place, beautiful little connections to my California roots, but also connections to our ever-present and constantly creating Creator.
How about you? Have you ever thought about developing a spirituality of place?
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Gerard Manely Hopkins