“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” (Romans 1:20)
When I was growing up, I spent most of my time indoors--reading books; watching game shows; and playing school, pharmacy, and book store with my sister. My father would often call me a "houseplant," and even though we had a swimming pool, a tree house, and a swing in our backyard, I definitely spent more of my childhood inside the house than out.
And yet…I have many, many memories of my times outside. I remember whining piteously over blisters from autumn-leaf raking. I remember the feeling of independence of riding my bicycle alone around the neighborhood, and the absolute thrill of careening down one particularly steep hill. I remember squatting in front of a flat rock under the azalea bushes in the front yard, grinding leaves with stones and making other “cooking” preparations. I remember treasuring the one tiny drop of honeysuckle juice from the blossoms that grew along our fence, and picking wild berries that grew near our house.
You would think I had quite the outdoor lifestyle as a child, wouldn’t you?
And yet, while memories of outside make up a pretty significant percentage of my memories, the actual percentage of my life spent outside was quite small.
To me, this suggests that time outside as a child is special, valuable, memorable, and formative.
And it makes me desire to give my own children plenty of outdoor experiences of their own, so they can carry these positive memories throughout their lives.
Besides good memories, I think that time outside builds their creativity and imaginations; develops their spiritual understanding of their Creator and His Creations; and encourages respect for the resources of the earth and an understanding of the need to care for our environment.
John Calvin once wrote, “The creation is quite like a spacious and splendid house, provided and filled with the most exquisite, and at the same time the most abundant, furnishings. Everything in it tells us of God.” By spending time in nature, we learn about God and we learn to care about His Creation. And in learning to care about God’s Creation, we learn to care about other people and about our future together.
That’s all pretty heavy-duty sounding stuff! Not bad side benefits to something that’s just plain fun. From my children’s earliest days, it was clear to me that time outside always felt like time well-spent.
In future posts, I will share some ways that I get my girls out into nature in the midst of temptations to stay inside reading, playing computer games, and watching television. First up, the Nature Scavenger Hunt that kept our eyes and ears open on our walk to the neighborhood creek this morning. Stay tuned!
Along the way, please share your favorite ways of getting outside and enjoying nature with your children. For some people it comes so naturally; for others of us, we can use as many good ideas as we can get!