There is nothing like a cool breeze, an early dampness in the air, and feet on dew-wet gravel. We are so blessed to live in a small country 'town' (can't even be considered a town, really) that happens to be nestled along a large stream that flows from a breath-taking waterfall. The stream is full of dips, turns, spattered rocks and a lush green landscape lines every side. Toads, frogs, fish and all kinds of wonderful little creatures are always waiting to be discovered.
Nature has a way of calming children and adults alike. The flowing waters, the chirping birds, the croak of a fat toad, the melancholy song of the Mourning Doves across the water - all God's perfect gifts for the easy, sweet surrender of the soul. It is God's music, the natural world, and it has an unexplainable power to call to us, reach out, and beg us to stay, basking in His creation - the way it was meant to be. I encourage you, if you don't already, commit to getting your family in nature as much as possible, if not daily. It used to be that parents had to chase their children inside the house. Now, we have an epidemic in the Western world where millions of children have to be chased out. With so much screen time taking the place of quality outside playing and exploring, it's no wonder we have so many unhealthy, overweight, and unhappy children.
Adults and children thrive in the great outdoors. It calms us, opens our hearts to God's creation and does wonders for the pace and peace of family life.
I've also found our time in nature to have an overwhelmingly positive affect on my parenting and ability to cope with stress. When I'm looking up at blue skies and breathing in misty air beside rushing waters, I am renewed. Completely renewed. I whisper thanks for all I have - for the serenity and safety of my days and for the gift of creation, our children, our love for each other. I walk away a new person MANY days.
This Summer, can I challenge you to turn off the screens and spend as much time as possible outside? Go TV or computer-free for a week or two. Plan trips to local lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and farms. Turn off the cell phone and just be outdoors with your children. Bend low and smell a flower, dip your toes in rushing waters. Search for frogs and insects. Lay back on the grass and let the blades tickle your neck. Invite your children into a deeper relationship with God - through His creation.
Feel the rest and relaxation. Feel the renewal that our awesome God gives us in His sacred space - nature.
Some insightful and inspiring quotes about nature:
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir, 1913
God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Kahlil Gibran
I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~E.E. Cummings
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir
To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. ~Helen Keller