Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)
TITLE: A Place Apart
By Barbara Mahler
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Yet, one who comes for the first time cannot fully appreciate the beauty of this special place. The expanse of manicured grass areas beckon the visitor, sit down and rest with your God. The multi-colored flower beds present a feast for the eye of the beholder. My place apart is nestled in the shade of trees that seem to stretch forever on the mountain side. Birds land almost within reach – undaunted by my proximity. Refreshing mountain breezes circulate their delicious aroma.
Time does not allow me to visit here as often as I would like, but I am drawn like a magnet. It takes many return trips to drink in all of it - to bask in its peace – to pray – to reflect – to discern – to recollect – to turn off the switch of daily cares and concerns. The sound of silence pervades this place – a welcome respite from the hustle –bustle world in which I live.
“Welcome to this most sacred site,” is another sign in the midst of this peace. Made of steel from the North Tower Building of the World Trade Center and bells from a seminary in Virginia to honor the innocent victims who died on September 11, 2001, the Tower of Remembrance stretches upward and draws the eye toward heaven.
The name of each innocent victim who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in the field in Pennsylvania is inscribed on the memorial walls. Bells toll forty-six minutes after each hour starting at 8:46 am and ending at 8:46 pm. For many it serves as a shrine of hope; indeed, a reminder that God remains with us as those who died are now with Him.
No matter how often I try, I am not able to adequately discern God’s presence here. No, His presence isn’t in the outdoor statutes or various shrines – or even in the magnificently manicured landscape and floral displays. He is just here!
Perhaps many of us have a place to walk with our God, but do we allow them to be “this side of Paradise” as this one is for me?
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