Spring has been good for my soul. I am sure many of you feel the same. As much as I wish it were spring all the time, the winter really does give me a fuller appreciation for the milder seasons of the year.
With spring comes playing outside….lots of playing outside. It is something that helps me breathe deeper in life, and I already see it fills up Heidi’s heart too. Being outside was the only thing that would calm her when she was a colicky baby. She used to take her morning nap in my jogging stroller as I enjoyed a run. In warm weather, we even walk her outside to calm her down after a middle-of-the-night nightmare, pointing out the moon and the stars. It works like a charm. She begs to play outside, rain or shine.
If I can get her interested, we go hiking. We’ve gone hiking at several different parks, and I just can’t get enough of watching her explore…she runs ahead, kicks leaves, finds the perfect stick, wades in whatever creek she can find, and always favors the most difficult trails.
This past weekend, we had a couple of extremely pleasant and warm spring days. Naturally, we spent most of it outside. There is a nearby park I love to take Heidi to, both because it has a huge playground and because the bathrooms are very accessible (which is very important when you have a toddler!).
After a couple hours playing on the playground, she took off running for the trails. She led the way, sifting through leaves to find her walking stick, and began marching, looking for adventure. She rarely turned around to see if I was following and got lost in her own little world.
We came to a fork in the trail. One way was a very simple path…the other was labeled, “Advanced,” and it twisted and turned up a very steep hill. Heidi took two seconds to decide the advanced one looked much more fun.
My mama’s reaction immediately said, “No, baby, you’re too little, let’s go the other way.” Her eyes narrowed and she took a couple more steps toward the more difficult path, and begged, “Please, mommy? Just a little bit.”
I began to say No again, but suddenly, I thought, Why not? Why am I saying no? I am right here with her. I will help her every step of the way. Just let her explore.
“Ok, let’s go,” I said as she happily turned on her heels and began to climb. I felt a huge smile spread across my face as she picked her way along the rough path.
I had the same kind of moment yesterday, a warm but very rainy day. Heidi begged me to play outside the second she woke up from her nap. I kept telling her no, it’s raining, let’s play inside. But suddenly, I thought, Why not? She won’t melt. Let her play in the rain. So we got on our rain jackets and boots, and took our dog for a long, meandering walk, the rain gently falling around us. I was so glad I said yes.
In both cases, I followed her…far enough to give her space but close enough to intervene if she needed me…I couldn’t help but envy her fearlessness, her lack of knowledge for what time of day it was or what still had to be done, her pure enjoyment of the moment, regardless of the weather. She was following her own path, and she wasn’t worried what was up ahead: in fact, she welcomed it. She didn’t worry about getting soaking wet. She didn’t pay attention to anything but what needed to be tasted and experienced right in front of her. She didn’t worry about falling and skinning her knee until it actually happened. When it did, she would immediately turn my way (after twenty minutes of not even noticing me), tears streaking her face, and reach for me, expecting me to be right there.
And I always was.
I could stand to be more that way. Granted, I have the added weight of age and stress and
responsibilities that come with adulthood… “wisdom” as I like to call it. 😉 But that doesn’t mean I probably couldn’t trust God just a bit more…worry a bit less…and enjoy the ride for all its ups and downs, joys and tears, smooth or rugged trails. I could say, “yes” more to challenges…even if it seems likely I might fail. I could worry less about trials until I was actually in them, and even then, I could turn to God more immediately and trust more readily He would fix me up just the way I needed Him to.
Because truthfully, it’s in the risk-taking and deep breaths where I find life. Playing it safe may be more comfortable, but it’s not as fun and awe-inspiring. Jesus said He wanted to give us life to the fullest. I am pretty sure that didn’t mean to stay inside on rainy days or stick to the easy trails. Fullness means full-circle, a balance of mountains and valleys, a range of joy and sadness that make me wiser.
I think Heidi’s got it just right. Be yourself. Play outside and play hard. Accept and pursue challenges. Have fun with the people who love you. Accept discipline and move on. Make new friends. Trust your mama (and your Father in heaven).
And when things get a little crazy, take a break and drink a pop.
“Without revelation and reframing, life can seem like an endless desert of danger with scratchy sand in your shoes, and yet if we remember or are reminded to pay attention, we find so many sources of hidden water, so many bits and chips and washes of color, in a weed or the gravel or the sunrise. There are so many ways to sweep the sand off our feet. So we say, “Oh my God. Thanks.” ~Ann Lamott
“What have I to dread? What have I to fear? I have blessed peace with my Lord so near. Leaning on the Everlasting arms… ” ~Anthony Showalter