In a world of constant change—politics, economics, decay, jobs, cultural shift, hardware, software, means of communication—I HAVE to go outdoors. My point-seven-two-mile walk to and from work provides me at least a small daily dose of staying in touch with what is unchanging. While change does happen in the natural world—especially in the north where all four seasons are dramatically different from each other—this change is expected, regular, normal, and older than humanity. My soul craves such orderly constancy—constancy that has absolutely nothing to do with me.
Skunk cabbages, marsh marigolds, and jacks-in-the-pulpit unfold in that order at the marsh verges after the winter thaw every year. Crows steal songbird eggs, gang up, and harass owls and hawks every year. Song sparrows sit on bush tops and celebrate life while chittering wrens hop in the branches below every nesting season. Robins, cedar waxwings, and starlings compete for old crabapples every spring. Cicadas brreeee and katydids skritch every waning summer. Sugar maples and sumacs flame every fall. Snow turns my landscape from drabness to brilliance every winter. Year after year after year.
And all of this occurs regardless of what happens on Wall Street, who is in the White House, whether you have cable TV or the dish, who has been born and who has died, my having a camera with enough pixels to show up nicely on screen and in print, whether Al Qaeda has a new head terrorist, or whether I choose to have my molars crowned or pulled.
In the natural world, if I and my neighbors have not messed it up too badly, I can forget the vicissitudes of my life, and find both confidence and hope in the constancy of earth’s life as promised long ago by our Creator:
As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease (Genesis 8:22).
I, you, and our children need to deliberately spend time outdoors if for no other reason—as Henry David Thoreau said—than to “not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito’s wing that falls on the rails.”