It's Time To Get Your Family Outdoors Because…

It Realigns The Soul To God

The sun has dropped below the horizon and the startling array of orange and red hues draping the sky deepen. The growing shadows heighten the contrast between the ridges unfolding before us. We are sitting on a bluff at over 6,000 feet of elevation in the middle of the Smoky Mountains; the landscape ripples out for what seems like an eternity. The chill in the wind is sharp, but only heightens the beauty of the landscape and the moment. Slowly, the twenty or so hikers who have joined us atop Cliff Tops on Mt. Leconte begin trickling off the bluff and back down the trail. Their chatter and their headlamps are quickly swallowed by the pines and myrtles behind us. My wife snuggles into me as we readjust our position on the rock. She knows I’m not ready to leave yet – we’ll be the last to walk back down. The light slowly fades and our view of the landscape goes with it. Far in the distance below, scattered lights blink on. Above, stars flicker into view and the expanse opens. Blinking - tears brim over my eyelids. Is it the cold wind? Something within shifts. A welcome gift. I am small again.



In Psalm 8, David expresses a similar sentiment. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them… Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

Yet our propensity is to exchange awe and beauty for comfort and safety as we retreat into our environmentally regulated homes. Well-intentioned, we protect our children at the expense of crippling them – introducing the illusion that with enough caution and prudence security can be purchased. A friend was recently surprised to find a neighbor had called the police to her home… because she’d allowed her boys to play in the rain.

Street lights shroud our view of the stars; buildings block our view of the horizon. The buzz of traffic drowns out the noise of the local wildlife while an array of electronics clamor for the attention of our eyes. In the din and hum of suburban and urban life, it’s all too easy to lose the awe of God that is so readily evoked upon entering the natural world. Busy schedules, social pressures and the stress of daily life leave us feeling as if the world were upon our shoulders. In such a state, it is easy to lose an honest assessment of one’s own size and influence… of His size and power.

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.” - Linda Hogan

So take the hand of your spouse and your children. Go outdoors and then go a little further – a little deeper - until you are beyond that which you can regulate – beyond yourself. Step out from under the awning and into the storm as it unloads its furious burden of water and light and sound. Go and stand in the surf, at the ocean’s edge… withdraw from the lights and gaze up into the unending sky… step to the edge of the bluff, releasing your eye to travel out and over the unfolding ridges. Pull your loves close – squeezing them tight as you surrender your silly little small to His overwhelming Big.



 

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