“[L]et him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:24)
My mom (who lives in Alaska) recently deeded me her property in Oregon, hoping for it to stay in the family, and it brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. I looked at the deed and its property description starts like this:
A tract of land in Section 14, Township 5 South, Range 6 West of the Willamette Meridian, Yamhill County, State of Oregon, described as follows: Beginning at a stake South 0 degrees 33’ West 31.95 chains from the Northwest corner of Lot 4 of Section 11 in Township 5 South…
Quite the description, brings a lot to mind! Well, not really. No address listed, nothing talking about what the property looks like, whether or not anyone lives there, etc. Actually, the property is quite hilly, it’s vacant, it’s about two acres, there’s an old broken-down barn/shack where my pony used to live, there is an empty spot where the trailer used to be, and blackberry brambles have overtaken the land. But it has a lot of potential! It’ll be interesting to see what our family does with it in the future.
The description doesn’t do it justice, at least from the life we used to live there. It doesn’t talk about the easy access I had going through the woods to my uncle and aunt’s house to play. (They had many acres to explore.) My girl cousins and I (including one who lived farther down the road) would all ride our horses together, the older cousin leading us to play in elaborate stories. It doesn’t say that my grandparents lived in the other direction, with even more property, horses and cattle, with lots of love and laughter and homemade pie. It doesn’t show that the property is in beautiful Gopher Valley, where my Bontrager family from all around would camp sometimes during the summers at Deer Creek Park down the road from where we lived. And I remember every Sunday going to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a family gathering and potluck, with lots of music and playing games.
Looking at the property now, people don’t realize that we used to have animals my mom rescued. We had dogs (some inside, some out), cats, ponies, birds, a goat named Elmer and a fox named Romeo. (By the way, the answer to the question is that foxes bark like dogs.) Every once in awhile we would have puppies or kittens, which I loved to play with before we eventually gave them away. It did a world of good to this only child of a single mom who struggled to make ends meet. My mom made a warm and welcoming home for us. Having animals as well as lots of books to read were soul enriching; both have helped me to this day to grow as a person.
From its deed description, and indeed from the description of how the property looks today, the land doesn’t seem that important. But, to borrow a phrase from Doctor Who describing his TARDIS*, it’s bigger on the inside! The memories of what was and the potential of what is to come combined with its present description, all make it a wonderful piece of land. People are like that, too. Too often we judge – even if we don’t think we do – people in the public eye, on social media, or people we know by their appearance, by their statements, by their conversation, by whether or not they are homeless or sound uneducated. But everyone is equally important, equally loved by God (beautifully, fantastically, wholly), and made in the image of God. Oh, that they would know that and know him. Oh, that we would know that, let it sink deeply in, and love God and love others as ourselves. Let’s see others how God sees them – bigger on the inside – and do the good work of loving others with mercy, justice and humility before God. (Micah 6:8)
*The TARDIS looks like a phone booth on the outside, but is a fabulous control center and beyond on the inside, to take the Doctor wherever and whenever he wants in time.
Kelly can be reached via email.