Today is the day Here, Now is officially born! Just for funsies, I’ve decided to include an excerpt in today’s post. This is the beginning to chapter 7, which is about practicing presence in adventure and creation, which happens to be my all-time fave. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but there’s a funny story following this chapter intro… (which happens to be called Sweat, Speedos, and Sparkly Surprises)
So, this is me encouraging each of you to get after it, however that looks for you: picking flowers, stand-up paddling, hiking, picnic in the arboretum. Get the sun on your face, get fresh air in your lungs. Spend some time thinking about the One who made it all with someone who calls you sister or neighbor or mom or wife or friend or daughter. Big love to you today!
I’m somewhat of a hippie. Kind of granola, but not totally. If I were a bumper sticker, I’d land somewhere between “Kale yeah!” and “I love animals, they’re delicious.” I spent six years of my childhood on a mountain in Idaho without electricity or paved roads, and all the other years were spent on the beach in Southern California. So, while I love man-made things—especially my pink velvet couch with sequined cushions—I have a special affinity for creation, for experiencing God’s presence in what he spoke into existence. I don’t want to cram my earthy ways down your throat, as I understand not everyone enjoys the same things, but there is nothing quite as real and centering as delighting in nature.
And if nature is the doorway of God’s wild beauty, then adventure is crossing the threshold with intention. It’s not enough just to know it’s there or to merely bring pieces of it into my house; it must be entered into. This call of adventure is an invitation to experience sights, sounds, scents, and textures that draw us out of ourselves and into what’s happening beyond the sterile and controlled environments we have built around us.
I believe the pleasure of God is in the adventure—in the sound of fishing poles clacking while hiking down the trail, the picnic on the river, the casting and mending of the fly rod’s thick white line under a wide blue sky; in the waxing of the board, the salt crystals forming on hair and eyelashes after surfing—yet we don’t often recognize it. When we do, it’s like opening an elegantly wrapped gift in the presence of the giver: there is mutual anticipation, mutual delight. He saw what he had made and called it good, and he wants us to revel in the good he made.
But, too often, we merely spend our days checking off the to-do list. He gave us senses he wants to fill, yet we’ve allowed them to be dulled by screens, by busyness, by duty. Sometimes the last thing on our minds is enjoying creation, looking for adventure. Maybe it’s because work is relentless; the hamster wheel spins too fast to step down without face planting. Maybe it’s because going off the beaten path takes a bit of effort, more than we think we can afford. Maybe it’s because encountering nature can be an unpredictable thing, a bit frightening, because we might find ourselves in a situation we can’t control. But I’m pretty sure that’s where God meets us: in the space where we set aside our agenda and learn to be openhanded with his will for the days of our lives. He meets us in the wild and savage beauty because, as they say in Narnia, “He is not a tame lion.”
So much keeps us from natural spaces—but isn’t that where we met God for the first time, so long ago? In a garden. Face-to-face. Where it’s his desire to care for us by filling our souls with fresh air, with exquisite beauty. It’s his concept, that in creation we are drawn into his very presence. And in that presence, we are drawn closer to him and closer to each other. Being outside gives us the chance to stop to notice him, to hear him say, Look what I made for you, my dear. Look how much I love you, how capable I am of creating beautiful things. Come away with me, darling. Be with me awhile. It’s hard to ignore when we step away from our usual distractions. Love is loud and clear in the great outdoors.
Entering into the adventure space is always a risk. Sometimes it ends up magical—the setting, the company, the weather, the discovery. And yet sometimes . . . not so much. You can’t put a bridle on adventure; it’s going to go the way it wants. Either way, though, it’s living. It’s diving into the experience. It’s sharing in our surroundings and finding out more about ourselves, more about each other. And it’s always beautiful, even if it looks a little different than we hoped.