“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” Wendell Berry, American author
All this week, I have been mentally revisiting a place that I hold sacred. The Indiana Dunes is the place of my childhood, the place where I fell in love, the place that appears without fail in any dream that concerns home.
Book promotions for Dune Girl have driven me to think and talk of this place until I can feel the smoothness of a certain stairway banister in my hand. I can see the Creamsicle sunset melting into Lake Michigan on a fair-weather evening. I can hear both the screaming gulls and the contrasting roar of the “L,” Chicago’s elevated train.
All this, even though I have been gone from this place for 23 years and have long since grown even more comfortable in the mountains of West Virginia. If such a change of place is really possible.
Many West Virginians, like author Wendell Berry, would probably say it is not. Here, some families live on land that has been handed down since a time when grave stones were nothing but a name scratched on a large rock given how remote many ridges or hollows were. We’ve met a handful of people who have lived in the same house — the house of generations — their entire lives.
Same house, or so many dwellings we actually have to count them on our fingers, I suspect all humans have some place that is their place. We know place. We feel place. God must have built place into the human heart.
That is why we find it so unacceptable when someone desecrates the land or water that is our backyard, or when customs officials remove children from the arms of refugees who’ve lost every sense of where and who they are in this world.
We know such things are wrong because our souls know place. Lord, help our actions to catch up to our thoughts.