Friday, March 14, 2008


Eleven years ago I moved away from my birthplace -- a small coastal town in Washington state. After five years in Oregon, I moved to a very new master-planned community in the desert.

Last week I visited my hometown. It looked much the same, probably, but to my eyes it now looks a bit shabby. The fence is gone from my old front yard, but our old house is still the dusty blue my dad painted it soon after I left home. Plants in black plastic pots cluster around the front door, and the once-tidy rose bed seems to be covered over with grass.

A search for an old friend led me up the tallest hill in town, to the hospital where I was born. The hospital lobby was filled with fussy children and the aroma of fresh espresso. The desk attendant said my friend was not on their patient list, so I returned to the parking lot.

I wandered to the edge of the hill and looked down at the rows of tiny houses. From this distance, the town sparkled in the spring sunshine, surrounded by dark evergreen hills and a silver harbor. Far off on the western horizon the silver harbor met a gray line that I knew was the Pacific ocean. All thoughts of shabby depressed little towns fled as I meditated on the beauty of my native environment.

This week I am thankful to be back with my family in the desert. As I prepared breakfast this morning, I played a Tommy Fleming CD. The first song on the CD is "From a Distance." I've never liked the song, but I do like Tommy Fleming. As I listened and scrambled our eggs, I thought that it was sad to hear the Lord portrayed as so very distant from us, but as I kept listening I suddenly heard another viewpoint: it's not about the distance, it's about His perspective. Our lives are like my favorite Impressionist paintings -- just a bunch of dots and blobs when seen too closely, but take a step back and the painting makes sense and becomes a thing of beauty.

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