Finding a Sense of Place

Speaking with Alastair McIntosh on the podcast really got me thinking about the idea of ‘place’.

I guess it’s true that you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it. I’d always taken my family home for granted, and the sense of identity, rootedness and place that came with it. Then, just a few months into Bible College, Dad left mum, sold the house and gave away my dog.

If you’d have asked me before the event how I thought something like that would affect me, I’d probably just have shrugged my shoulders. I was young, energetic and adventurous, and keen to leave home once and for all.

Then the end of the first semester came. I walked to the train station, and suddenly realised, I didn’t have anywhere to go…

Alastair McIntosh has spent most of his life campaigning to protect peoples’ sense of place. Whether it’s fighting off super quarries who want to blow up a mountain on the Isle of Harris, or campaigning for land reform for the residents of the Isle of Eigg, or social entrepreneurial work in one of the most deprived areas of Glasgow. Alastair realises that ‘place’ is at the heart of human wellbeing, and so he is willing to fight for it.

But as Alastair said in our interview with him, ‘place’ is also portable. So, for example, despite all the activity around him, Jesus had a deep sense of rootedness and identity, even though ‘the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’

And that slowly became my experience. Amidst all the chaos of my parent’s divorce, and the months of couch surfing, I slowly began to sense my identity shift away from physical place and take root more deeply in my relationship with Jesus (which included some pretty intense mystical experiences).

I’d never needed Jesus in that way before, but I guess you don’t know what’s available until you really need it…

Tim

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