My thirty-something daughter was going through an emotionally wrenching experience when she sent me a text message: “I wish the kids and I could come see you now.” So I painted a word picture of a happy place she had experienced 20 years ago. My text message:

Let’s go to Granny’s porch to eat some watermelon with her and Howard. The sun’s just gone down and the jar flies are singing (ee-oh-ee-oh-ee-oh-ee-oh-eeeee). Tell me what you see.

Several hours later, I got her reply:

With that one message you wrapped your arms around me, Daddy (through a veil of tears)…I see Bouncer and Cricket [Granny’s dogs] doing laps around the perimeter of the yard, trying their darnedest to teach those squirrels a lesson…I see Uncle Dan and Keith crafting a complicated firework cannon with Coke cans and duct tape…Howard is bringing a handful of fresh veggies up from the garden…corn, ‘maters, zucchini…

I responded:

Yes, Honey. I see it too. Let that be our comfort place. All of us are there when you need a place of peace. All of us–including Jesus. See Him?

She texted back:

He’s sitting on the dock of the lake across the street, fishing pole in hand…

Then came a smiley-face emoticon.

That scene of tranquility and joy resides in her memory, ready to be conjured by something as simple as the jar flies’ song. (Perhaps that sound evokes such a place for you, too.)

Memory can be a powerful balm for both storyteller and reader, and that sense of place can be awakened simply. A sound, a smell, a color or texture can take us to those “places in the heart” where an entire world waits for us.