Brooding white sentinels stand in a blood-red mound, where their fallen comrades lie in decay. I can almost imagine wolves appearing from the birch forest to crest the mound, silvery phantoms with abysmally black eyes, soulless and hungry, tracking my progress through the field. They are nothing more than a mirage of the fog, I know, for there is no beast bigger than a coyote on the island, but still I cannot help but watch the gloomy depths.
If I make it past the sentinels (as I always do), there is a stump waiting for me at the edge of the field. This stump happens to be perfectly positioned between the trees, with a panorama I think God created with me in mind. Yes, I think as He seeded the earth with the forest that now grows at the bottom of the sweeping potato field, He thought, “Ah, she will like this, my little one to be. I’d better plan to have a stump where she can sit and pray and love what I’ve given her.”
I listen to the birds. I study the distant, lonely tree that looks as if sheep belong beneath it. I plan to enjoy a summertime picnic out there by the creek that surely gushes in the coulee. I watch light and shadow chase each other across the red dirt. My heart is full, even when my head is empty.
It is my getaway. My place to be quiet with my King, or to speak with Him as candidly as I do with my beloved. Most often, gratitude is the song on my lips. I thank Him for beauty, for goodness, for love. I give Him my heart, there on the edge of the field, and He gives me His. I know that when I open myself to Him, I am not opening myself to be wounded, but to be filled with His love.
This vulnerability is as necessary between God and us as it is between human and human. To love and to be loved fully, we must be vulnerable. Opening yourself is a risk, but it is a necessary risk, if love is to enter and fill you. I’ve known the gift of vulnerability with several people, beginning with my family. We are separated by nearly the entire breadth of the country, and yet we share a bond that few families do—because we’ve given our hearts to each other. At a thought, a teardrop, a memory, the distance breaks down, and suddenly we are close.
Everyone ought to have a stump where they can sit on the edge of a field and rendezvous with God. But if this is not possible, know that love does not need a time and a place, only an open heart.