I was reading Luke 2:41 - 50 as part of my Ignatian Spiritual Exercises last week. Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and his extended family had travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Somehow in the chaos of large group travel Mary and Joseph managed to lose the Son of God for a few days. When they eventually locate him he is calmly sitting in the temple courts listening to the teachers, asking questions and offering answers of his own.
In the past when I have read this passage I get caught up in questions regarding how Mary and Joseph could travel for days without realizing Jesus is with them and wondering where Jesus ate and slept in their absence. (We know that some people lived at the temple e.g. Anna in Luke 2:37, and as Men and Women would generally travel separately with the children travelling with the Women it is quite easy to see how Jesus at age 12 could have travelled either with the women or with the men and so each group could assume he is with the other, but I digress.)
This reading I was struck by Jesus' words 'I must be in my Father's house'. I began to think of what geographical locations felt that way to me, if I was to go to my heavenly Father's house, where would I travel too.
Here are the places that came to mind for me:
- The North Norfolk Coast, especially, Blakeney or Sheringham.
- Swanage in Dorset
- The Jesus Chapel in Norwich Cathedral
- Palo Duro Canyon
It's interesting to me that three of these places are seaside towns, and at only one of these places does my Father's House have a roof!
What places come to mind for you when you think of connecting with Father? Are there any characteristics they share? I know I am wired to connect to God when I'm at the seaside, there's something about the vastness of the horizon that helps me to plug in to the Divine - though I'm also aware that I don't enjoy just sitting on the beach, I need to be walking and being active.
What are your places? Leave me comment with their locations :)
...one more thought. At age twelve Jesus refers to the temple as his Father's House. When he is in his thirties he takes a whip to it and calls it a den of thieves. I have to be careful that I don't idealize the places where I connect to God in such a way that I am blind to their flaws.