Sanctifying the Place

A recent three day Personal Retreat in the Fremont National Forest in South Central Oregon gave me a new understanding of what I call “sanctifying the place.”

As mentioned in Face to Face, I often go to a place I haven’t been before as kind of an explorer.  My plan was to go to one of two lakes just north of the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness Area, both of which had National Forest campgrounds.  The photos online and on my old Forest Service map looked inviting.

Arrival revealed quite a different place, however, due to pine tree disease in the area.  Almost all the trees had been cut down around the lake with slash piles stacked throughout the campground.  Since it didn’t look too inviting, I drove on the next campground west and found the same thing.  So I continued to the next campground and again found most of the trees cut down that had formerly shaded the place and piles of slash.

But I stopped, as nature had called, and after leaving the spotless outhouse decided to walk a couple hundred feet over to the North Fork of the Sprague River that ran through the area.  The area along this ten to twenty foot wide river was grassy, had some trees and was actually quite beautiful.  There were only five campsites in the campground, and I was the only one there.  I was then impressed that this was the place God had chosen to sanctify for my Personal Retreat.

I spent a lot of time sitting down by the river, as well as just walking down river in this lovely area.  On one of those morning walks a lone hawk soared overhead screaming out its call as it searched for food.  The place truly took on that edenic quality I’m always looking for.

The point I’m making is that first impressions can be deceiving.  God has to open our eyes spiritually to truly see where we are, to see his sanctification of a place for meeting with him.   Ultimately it is his presence that sanctifies the place, that makes it special, and he will often do that in unlikely places.

— Monte Kline