When I was in Estes Park with my daughter the other day, I picked up a book called Whispers In the Wilderness by photographer Erik Stensland. It is basically a reflection book of photography from Rocky Mountain National Park and meditations upon our inner lives. I found the book literally the day after I was writing in my journal about needing something of a daily devotional… Anyway…the second reflection in the book was entitled “Restoration Area” and reflected upon the many areas that are marked in nature centers, national parks, etc as “restoration areas.” Areas where attempts are being made to restore habitats to what they once were. He includes a beautiful picture of one such area with a well worn sign.
While I’ve been in Colorado this past week, I haven’t taken any photos of any “restoration area” signs even though I have seen several. But so much of this time feels like a restoration overall. I was able to spend time with most of my immediate family (unfortunately, my wife was not able to join us on the trip) and then also time with several of my dear friends from college each of whom have been vital parts of my life and faith journey. And I’ve been able to be out in the amazing creation all around here. Each of these have been aspects of a restoration area after what has been (for all of us) a very difficult last 16+ months.
While Stensland doesn’t use the word, Sabbath, that is very much what I heard in his reflection. He writes:
I find great hope in these restoration signs. After years of watching them, I’ve seen these places spring back to life when they are given the space they deserve. What looked to be a hopeless situation was simply a garden waiting for the opportunity to thrive. All it took was for someone to draw a boundary and declare this area off limits, once again giving it the space to grow.Stensland, Erik Thomas. Whispers in the Wilderness . Rocky Trail Press. Kindle Edition.
It is creating space for that which has become tired and worn to grow once again. Jesus practiced this time and again in the many times he went off by himself to pray and rest. I am grateful for the time I’ve been able to have to do similarly.