I recently read a post on Facebook, from someone experiencing some extremes of weather - and perhaps some loneliness - saying that she needed to find "the perfect place." This, understandably, would be one with no tornadoes, no snow, no hurricanes, no.... Well, you get the picture.
My guess is that many of us have had similar thoughts from time to time. For me, it's in the peak allergy season, when it seems I am under attack by the entire plant world. The details of the weather, however, don't bother me much, for reasons you may understand later.
But the statement got me to thinking. What is the "perfect" place?
I grew up in Colorado, in and near the mountains. We had horses and cows. In high school, I worked on ranches in Colorado and Wyoming, and one summer, at the county rodeo grounds. I was living in heaven, and had no interest in "seeing the world." After all, how much better could it be?
Then I joined the Air Force, and began to see the "less fortunate" parts of the world. I spent time in various parts of the U.S., including the Great Lakes, the Southwest, the West Coast, the South, and more. I saw a lot. And I also spent time in Asia and Europe.
So I consider myself somewhat qualified to talk about "the perfect place."
I think of my experience in this wide variety of places, some with lots of snow, others with no snow. Some had hurricanes, others, tornadoes, and all in all, perhaps every sort of weather on record. (I find it ironic that weather and climate play such a large role in answering this question. I was a weather guy: These things were my business.) And I notice that the weather had nothing to do with my enjoyment of the place.
I spent time in a place with 190 inches of snow a year. I enjoyed it a lot. I spent time where the temperature often topped 100 degrees, and dust storms were not uncommon. Again, I had a great time. I spent time on an island - a sandbar, really - in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a hurricane target. I enjoyed that, as well.
Now I'm in Saint Louis, and have been for nearly 5 difficult years. But I was here before, and the years were not difficult. What's the difference?
I have concluded that the perfect place is one where I can follow and serve God, being a channel of his grace and truth, and where I can enjoy the presence of important relationships in my life.
It doesn't matter if I'm on a tropical island far from anywhere, in a remote town in snow country, or in a major city. What matters is why I'm there, and what I'm doing there. Am I there because God sent me? Am I doing something that matters, something that honors God? Am I in growing, loving relationships with God and others?
If I am, if I can answer yes to these questions, then I am in the perfect place, or as close as I can get in this life. And I am to be envied.