“Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me." –Walt Whitman
“Go out and play and I don’t want to see you back here until supper!”
Out: from hermetically sealed air conditioned offices and bedrooms, where it can feel as if I am living in a giant refrigerator crisper drawer. Out: from behind a desk piled with papers and a computer overflowing with emails, my window giving me a glimpse of the place “out there” I really want to be. Out of my car sitting in Mass Turnpike traffic, crawling along at 14 miles an hour, to my bike, breezing along at 14 miles per hour on a sun dappled back road.
If there is one command Mother Nature gives to us this time of year, it is one simple piece of natural advice. GET OUT! Out of a suit and into a bathing suit. Out: from sitting in front of a TV ballgame and instead out to the ballpark for a real game, the crunch of peanut shells underfoot, the cry of “PLAY BALL” echoing around some ancient stadium. Out: from being nose to nose with a smart phone to being face to face with a sky full of stars on a balmy summer evening, to marvel at the Big Dipper, the North Star, the Milky Way, spilled across the heavens.
Out: even when it’s wicked hot, like it is now, as we descend into the furnace of our first New England heat wave of the year. Even when the bugs bite and the ticks tickle and the moths flutter so annoyingly all around us. Even when hot sands burn our feet or poison ivy gets in the way. Even when sweat is the price to pay for a noontime walk. I think all those outside downsides are well worth it.
It’s no mistake that when the Creator of the universe began shaping our world, God made a garden, outside, for humans to call home. Not a house. Not a shelter. Not even a tent or a lean to. And certainly not an AC unit in sight. That’s why we call the outside places that feel like heaven on earth “Eden”.
For us humans are made to be outside. Made to go barefoot. Made to wander into the woods and listen for the songs of birds and the buzz of bugs. Made to see the natural world, not as some power to be tamed or pushed away, but instead to know nature as a primordial gift from God, to be embraced with enthusiasm and thanksgiving.
According to the unofficial calendar of summer, we’re coming up on the halfway point of this all too short time of year. The 4th of July is in the rear view mirror and Labor Day is beginning to loom up ahead. So here’s my spiritual advice for all of us in the handful of days we have left before school and work and a return to the September routine.
GO OUT AND PLAY!
Make an outside summer 2016 bucket list and then start checking off the items. My list? To sit in the shade of the back porch in a cozy chair and lose myself in a book for one long afternoon. To buy a frozen treat from a local ice cream truck, as it warbles it’s off key song, and then eat that chilled concoction so fast that I get a brain freeze. To hop on my bike and pedal my way to some town center or lost highway I’ve never seen before. To tend my little garden of three tomato plants and then enjoy that red and ripe fruit come August. To stand outside under a warm summer rain shower, look for a rainbow in the sky and not worry about getting wet.
I’m getting out to play. Today. Right now. Eden awaits. May you find your personal Eden too. See you on the outside!