Driving back in time
The other day I took a mini vacation with a friend. We needed to get out and do something as this pandemic seems to be never ending! So, we got in the car and drove back in time. Literally we drove to the San Fernando Valley but it really was a trip to our past. We both grew up in the same area (Calabasas and Woodland Hills) and knew some of the same haunts and people. We fer shure have talked about our common heritage as valley girls but like totally never drove around there together! Some of the areas were grody to the max and others looked frozen in time! It was seriously bitchin’!
Even though I knew her story and she knew mine, and even though we didn’t know each other then, it was like we knew each other always as we connected sights and streets and memories visually. It was fun to reminisce about these common things and it was also a bit eerie to think that we probably sat next to each other trying on shoes in the same store, sat on neighboring “sit-upons” at Cotton Tail Ranch or munching on popcorn at the same matinee at the theatre at Falbrook Mall. We probably were in the same classes at Shadow Ranch park, checked out books the other one read at the same library or watched fireworks at Shoup Park on the Fourth of July! It was an amazing adventure back in time together.
Actually I am older than Lauren so she probably was part of those things with my sister or brother but that doesn’t matter. There is something that time and place does to impact who we become. It can’t be helped. Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on it, put part of us knows that were we live, the places we spend our time play a part in shaping us because we collectively define its identity as a community. What has happened in a place shapes, directly or indirectly, how people see it, feel about it, and create narratives around it; such memories and stories are as much a part of the identity of a place as the bricks and mortar.
The places we live become a tangible landscape of memory. Yet, the physical makeup of a place is only the backdrop for our personalities, families and friendships to create a framework for us to grow and develop and see the world as we do. Sometimes God uses our places to change us. Sometimes our circumstances. He always uses all things to mold us into the image of His Son. Throughout the story of scripture, place is a very important concept. The land of Canaan isn’t just a settlement. It’s the Promised land. The Kingdom of Babylon isn’t just the one that happened to capture Israel. It’s a land of exile and God’s people were instructed to seek its peace and prosperity. (Jeremiah 29:7) There are countless times when Jesus is introduced as Jesus of Nazareth.
Place matters. Locations can lead us closer and closer to God. We are given our moment in history and our place upon the earth because this is the setting where we can draw closer to God, if we seek. That raises another question- what does it look like to seek? That will look different for different people, but ultimately, we are meant to engage with our place on earth rather than to try to escape it. God placed us where we are to draw us near.
Our moment in history matters. We have an opportunity to find God through our interaction with our surroundings.Opportunities to work remotely and live nomadically are on the rise. These aren’t necessarily bad changes, but they can cause us to overlook the importance of place. Not only did God create each one of us but he put us in this world in these times and in a particular place of His choosing
So, as we unraveled more of our memories, we found ourselves focused on how wonderful our stories are intertwined because of our current common space in both Fullerton and the family of faith. God is good to shape my life with places and people who change the landscape of my life and push me to follow after Him.