A lot of adventure stories take place outside. In fact, I think that's one of the main ideas we associate with adventure: being outside. A hefty chunk of my favorite books, The Lord of the Rings, takes place outside, as the characters wind their ways through many wanderings. Tolkien even tends to integrate some out-of-doors-ness into his indoors: several of his beautiful cities are so integrated with trees, valleys, and rivers that one can hardly tell where the hall ends and the forest begins. One of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow is called The Adventure Project Co. Most of their account is comprised of stunningly gorgeous photos of the great outdoors. I follow this account because it inspires me to see the beauty of nature. Something about the simplicity, ruggedness, and utter gorgeousness of creation pokes something awake inside of me. And since I'm learning to pay attention to the things that bring me joy, I think it's important for me to take heed of this ever-growing obsession with being outside.
My daddy is basically a farmer by trade. He grew up on a farm out here in West Texas -- a farm that's been in our family for around 150 years. My grandfather grew up there, with his siblings; Daddy and his brother and sister grew up there. Since we were small -- for as long as we can remember -- Luke, Cooper, and I have been going to the farm. When we were little it was more frequent. As we've gotten older, we've gone less frequently, but we still visit a few times every year. We've spent countless hours in those dirt fields: running, playing hide and seek, or even just admiring the skyline. The farm is an integral part of who we are, as individuals and as a family; it's woven into the fibers of our being, into the coding of our DNA.
Daddy has two degrees in Agricultural Economics. He's worked for the same company for the last thirty or so years, but he's still a farmer at heart. One of my favorite things about him is his utter love of everything that grows. He spends hours tending our (large) yard, because it helps him unwind. I've never asked him, and he wouldn't say it this way, but I would venture that something about working with the earth and the land and growing things makes him feel more like himself.
He imbued this in all of us. When the boys and I were little, the clarion call of our family was "Go play outside." He made us all do yard work on Saturdays. I hated yard work, and I would try come up with any excuse to go inside. I always thought I was an indoor girl. But around last year, my junior year in college, something funny started to happen.
It began when I just wanted to get out of my apartment. My window and our balcony look out over our complex's parking lot, so we're surrounded on all sides by mundane-looking buildings. I was in an emotionally dim place at the beginning of last fall, and I remember just hopping in my car and driving because I couldn't stand being trapped in my four walls anymore. I drove to the edge of the next town (maybe a thirty minute drive) and just sat there and watched the sunset. It did something to me -- nudged something inside me that I didn't know I loved.
After that, I started to notice more moments when I needed to be outside. Sometimes it was too cold for that -- I have a chronic hatred of cold. But whenever I was restless or moody or just really frustrated, I recognized the need in myself to be outside, under the sky, wind in my face. To me, the outdoors is real: it's solid, whole, free of screens and virtual reality. It reminds me that I'm actually pretty small, and my problems aren't that big -- which is comforting. It's a place of peace and sanctuary -- and it's also where all the adventures that we really love take place.
As I've written here before, I have recently discovered within myself a love of walking. It's a time to pray and dream and think and remind myself of what's important to me. It's a time to remember who I am and Whose I am. And that's really what the great outdoors does for me. It reminds me that I'm a person with dreams and hopes and fears, and that I have a God Who loves me and has the best things for me.
Being outside reminds me that I am created to be adventurous. The great outdoors calls to mind all the grand stories I've ever loved: Lord of the Rings, especially. The grand blue sky, the golden sunshine -- these poke awake the adventure-call in my heart. And when the longing for it is so deep that I feel I could explode -- when that happens, I know that God is calling to me, wooing me, as if to say, This is what you were created for: Me. Me, and the adventure that I Am and that I want to give you. And in those moments I could dance, because I don't just have a desire -- I have its fulfillment. I wasn't just created for it -- I've got it. And that is beautiful to me.
I've got all the adventure I could ever want, waiting for me in Jesus. And that's one of my many, many favorite things about Him. How can we say no to this?
And see, I would never have known this if it wasn't for the fact that I go outside and revel in His beauty. He calls to me through beauty. Maybe that's why beauty exists -- to point us back to the Beautiful One.
May we go outside today and remember who we are: not machines doing a job, but people with calling and love to be received and given. May we remember Whose we are, too. May we remember most of all that we are created to be adventurous, and that we have all the adventure in the world waiting for us. May we take Jesus up on His offer to lead us through the adventure. May we love Him all the more as we live the abundant life He has called us to.