I have been so hungry for God these past weeks—devouring book after book, trying on the thoughts of others and shaking off old habits. But the more I read about Him, the more He becomes a deep pool that I gaze into. I cannot fathom the bottom. If I dip my foot into the water, it disappears into a swirl of greens and browns…and what might come up out of those depths is a mystery.
The vastness of it all makes me dizzy and I want to slip my whole self under the surface—sink into this unknown beauty.
It reminds me of childhood, this feeling.
When we were kids, adventure was just a thought away. Each day opened up possibility, unfolding as a series of actions: What do you want to do now? Let’s play outside. There was always the next thing. We spent most of the day at the Black Spot. Thus named because it was what was left of a patch of strip mine. Whatever treasure was lifted out of the earth there left a stark, flat surface covered with black sand and pieces of slate. It was our favorite place to ride bikes because of the ease of pedaling on the flatness of it. There we would set up jumps with cinderblocks and old pieces of found wood and there we learned how to fly. When our legs grew weary of pedaling, we would park our bikes and tap patterns of holes into the slate flats with old rusty nails. The slate also made excellent blackboards and we would scratch words onto the grey surface with pointed stones.
Other days we would pick the milkweed pods that encroached upon the Black Spot and make intricate mud pies with feathery icing. The creek at the bottom of the hill provided the liquid to turn the black soil into batter. We would poke sticks down into the cakey mess and sprinkle delicate seeds on top. In the summer, raspberry bushes pushed up against the barren black and, rather than waste them on our inedible concoctions, we put those round bits of reddish flesh to better use.
My brother’s trailer now sits where the Black Spot was. Green grass pokes out from under the snow this time of year. Sometimes it feels like that sense of adventure in me—that wonder about the world—is buried also. Little bits of it poke out of me from time to time and I startle in recognition. I wonder if I imagined all those adventures…if they simply ceased to be because my grown-up mind has lost the ability to play this way.
Let’s play outside.
What I didn’t realize then is that those adventures were a way of tasting God. Looking back, I see His companionship in the cool, smooth surface of a piece of slate. He flew through the air underneath me when I was airborne off the bike ramp. He is the feathery softness of the milkweed.
My play looks different these days. I might take in a concert with my family, or steal a weekend away with my husband. I love to run, to paint, to create, to laugh with friends and family. But it is when I am out-of-doors that I feel Him return to me. These are the moments that color drips back into life and my breath is deep and sure.
When I bend to look through flowing water—watch light play on sinuous arcs rippling over hidden life—I feel the liquefied parts of me pulled deep into the earth, to the beginning of time when Spirit hovered over sea.
When I stir earth—dig into her musty skin—her kin in me is stirred. I feel my dusty roots.
And when I lay back on grass-bed and stare into an ocean of sky…I see the endless beauty of creation—of me, and what I was created to be.
When I play outside, I commune with God. And while book-reading is good, and it is whetting my appetite for Him, I am reminded of these words from a wise teacher:
Of making many books there is no end and much study wearies the body… (Ecc. 12:12)
Trouble is, I don’t play outside often these days. There are other ways, of course, that I commune with God. But none quite so fun. Last year, I read this book, and it reminded me how much fun God can be. I worked my way through the book here, posting once a week on what stirred inside.
Funny how I forget these things.
Today I stumbled across this post, and I remembered again. The thing is, I don’t want to forget this time. So, I’m making a commitment to play outside—even just a little—every day. I’ll try to tell you about it from time-to-time. And if you try it, I’d be honored if you tell me about your play dates with God.
Time to rediscover the wonder. See you down by the creek.