A Place of Safety

At the end of a quiet street, in an older established section of the town, sits an acre of land that has become a type of urban forest. There is a small creek that runs through the foliage keeping it green and growing. The owner originally planned to use the land for occasional storage of construction items from his business. He placed some large pipes in a small corner of the property, leaving the rest of it untouched.

As nature will do when left undisturbed, grasses grew and trees expanded and wild flowers sprang forth.

Awhile later, the family spotted an occasional deer as well as other woodland creatures. Since they were animal lovers of the best kind, they made a conscious choice to leave things as natural as possible. They piled up some fallen tree limbs, added a few other wooden items that were suitable for animal habitats, and watched their tiny sanctuary fill up with life.

They noticed the first marmots about ten years ago. They were naturally skittish and quickly hid if people were present. Now, there are several marmots on the grounds but it has been only in the last 2-3 years that they will come out and stay in the presence of humans. Perhaps it is a learned behavior, taught by generations of marmot parents that their home is a safe haven even from those 2-legged creatures nearby.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to come and take some photographs of this special place and its inhabitants. One of the first things I saw was a rather large male marmot sunning himself on the top of the pile of pipes, watchful but seemingly unconcerned.

It took time and effort and deliberate decisions to create this protected environment for the local wildlife. It didn’t happen overnight and it certainly didn’t happen by chance. They were careful and kind because they knew that trust can be easily destroyed, especially when dealing with animals.

But I think people respond the same way too.

As we struggle with our natural-man tendencies and figure out how to become our best self, we hope for patience and time and a safe place to wrestle with our humanity, especially among our family and friends.

As we seek for understanding and compassion for our shortcomings, may we remember to extend that same courtesy to others. Often in our stressful world, we unconsciously want mercy for ourselves but justice for others. Creating a safe place takes deliberate decisions of kindness and choosing charity over all else.

The French essayist Joseph Joubert, said long ago:

A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve. Click To Tweet