A couple weeks ago I was in Florida on vacation. It feels like a year ago, but it was a week. A week ago today we were having our final swim in the pool. In the days since, I’ve missed a few things about the trip. I mean, beyond the obvious–having no schedule, being off work, all the vacation biggies. And I’ve been thinking about how I might add some of the things I missed to my current life.
First, we walked the beach twice a day. At least. And we saw different animals, and different people, and we discussed them, and we watched the sky, and I collected shells, and it was peaceful out there.
I can’t walk the beach every day here at home. But I can go outside more. We have two dogs who think walking is the best thing ever. We have a small park a block from our house. It’s slightly sterile as parks go–in the sixteen years we’ve been walking there, we’ve seen one duck, one snake, and one turtle, but we also watched a hawk pair raise a family twice, and there are always squirrels. And there are other parks around. The natural world isn’t limited to vacation sites.
I love animals. I love plants and fungus. So why don’t I make time to get out into it? I can fall into the trap of thinking rest doesn’t matter, that every second has to be useful, but when I’m out with my son or husband walking the dog, it’s never, ever, ever wasted time. We talk. We laugh. We observe. We relax. We wear out the dogs. (Okay, we wear out the Chihuahua. The cattledog always comes home and runs laps around the back yard, frustrated by having to walk at our slow pace.) And yet we don’t take the time to get out like we should.
I realized when I was on the beach that there are some things I never tire of. I was excited every single time I saw a lizard. And since we saw lizards every step we took, I was excited a lot. I can pick up 4,000 iterations of the same seashell and be delighted by every single one. Here at home, I can watch birds and squirrels all the time and get as giddy as the first time. For me, animals and the natural world never get old.
While vacationing we fed turtles, squirrels, and water birds at a little city park. I was in heaven. It was the most fun thing ever. And yet recently my bird feeders at home have sat empty. I don’t always have to go for a walk to see the natural world. I can draw it close. (And as the raccoons that recently spent time in our attic show, sometimes it comes a little too close!!). So I want to do that again, too. Beauty can be free. Or cheap, since I have to buy bird seed. But I want to draw beauty close. I do most of my writing a few feet from a window to our backyard within sight of the bird feeders and a bird bath. Why am I not taking advantage of that?
So. This seems a little rambling, I know. I’ve felt a little rambling since getting home. I’m struggling to catch my balance in a few ways. But what touches me most on vacations is the natural beauty, so why am I not making the effort to bring that beauty into my real life? I gardened a lot this summer, so parts of our yard are lovely. Time to fill those lovely places with birds and squirrels, bring some life and beauty close, and feed that part of me that thrives on the natural world.
Are there places in your life, in your heart, that you’re starving for no good reason? Maybe it’s time to feed them. As I was reading about King Solomon recently, I noted that he studied animals. He had gardens. He seemed interested in all kinds of things. Hobbies matter. The world around us matters. It’s okay to spend time pursuing things without measurable reward. For me, that means the views out my window or what I see when I go walking. For you it might be something different. But last week reminded me that parts of me need fed, that I need to feed and value all the pieces of my life. Jesus promised to give us life to the full. I think that includes things that simply make our hearts sing.