I have always loved a perch, a high place from which to look out at the world.
The earliest perch I remember was the top bunk of a bed my father made for me. There I could watch for imagined bad guys and from my vantage point, keep myself and my small herd of stuffed animals safe from harm. And then one summer, after watching the movie Swiss Family Robinson, my dad built a tree house for my sister and me. Nestled high in the branches of a walnut tree with its small porch overlooking our farm, it too was a place to keep watch.
In my teens, my roost was at the crest of a small mountain in my hometown of Montreat, North Carolina. There, hidden in the crevasse between two boulders, I could observe the town below and in the solitude, reflect on my life as well.
And a few years ago, I stood with my father on a bluff at the edge of the American Cemetery in Normandy, France overlooking Omaha Beach where 50 years earlier he had entered the war. We looked over the beach, into the ocean and into his sorrow-filled past.
I believe the vantage point of a high place is a necessary thing. It expands your field of vision and offers a grander perspective. From there you can see what is not available without altitude. Ground level views are restrictive and lack perspective. They are short sighted and limited. At some point, I believe every soul needs some height.
When someone like the prophet Habakkuk (after a disturbing series of events) decides to go to a high place to watch and wait, I understand completely. Sitting in the midst of the fray wasn’t working for him. What God appears to be doing or not doing doesn’t make sense to him. He needs perspective. He simply couldn’t see.
Where else would he go? Where else does anyone go when they need to see and understand? A perch.
I’m telling you this because it helps to explain why I asked for a tree stand for Christmas. For those of you who, like me, are not hunters, a tree stand is a tall ladder that stretches about 20 feet up the trunk of a tree. At the top of the ladder rests a platform and a seat. Hunters use these to hide in and then ambush animals that amble nearby.
I, however, do not own a gun or a bow and arrow. Ever since I saw Bambi (whose mommy was shot), I have an aversion to hunting. OK, I do have a BB gun, but I don’t have anything that can kill a deer. Then why a tree stand?
I asked for a tree stand because there are some awesome woods behind our house. A family of deer wanders through daily. Last year, they brought their twin fawns. Birds are plentiful and an old owl has taken up residence there. Now and then a red fox slips by and chipmunks, squirrels, and other critters are everywhere.
In the summer a rich green canopy provides needed shade and in the fall, the trees are vibrant with color. It’s a beautiful place and thus far, I’ve only seen it from the ground.
I know this all sounds rather quirky, but I’ve been too long without altitude. For many seasons, I’ve been grounded and haven’t honored this deep need to have a high place to sit, to listen, and to observe. I know there is something there for me to see that I haven’t seen before.
The prophet Habakkuk says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me.”
I think I’ll climb up to my perch and join him.
Where is your high place? Where do you go to get perspective? Where do you watch and wait to see how your story is revealed?