Ever since I was a young boy, I loved the outdoors. I lived in a small town and a short bike ride would find me exploring some woods or fields nearby. I loved to immerse myself in the grandeur of the wildness of an unkept stand of woods or meadow. I loved to climb the several apple trees growing in the neighborhood park, pluck a few green apples and survey the landscape from my upper perch. What wonders we enjoyed when we were young.
As I advance in age and responsibility, I see that appreciation of my glorious surroundings God made for me to enjoy is becoming somewhat of an afterthought now. Even the youth today, at least my perception, do not appreciate their surroundings. We, their parents and other adult examples, have taught our youth to be productive, get from point A to point B. What about enjoying the trip?
One of my favorite Boy Scout rank requirements accomplished were the two that had me search the outdoors for various living items in the wild. The first asked to find 10 different signs of wild animal life. The second was similar, search and find 10 different native wild plants. These two requirements were ground breaking for me. I always loved to walk in the forest among the trees, hearing the wind rustling the leaves, but these two exercises challenged my senses to really look, listen and smell all around me to be aware of and appreciate the signs of God’s creation, small and large.
Starting with those early camp outs, scouring the flora and fauna for plants and animal signs, I became enamored with the intricacy and beauty of these small little plants with their small little flowers. I discovered that some of these plants had fruit that tasted pretty good – the wild strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. I also learned the “nice to look at but don’t touch or eat” plants.
As I scoured the ground looking for these wild flowers, rocks came into focus. I started picking up interesting looking rocks. Some rocks had curious looking things imbedded in them, which were later learned to be fossils.
In the course of my Scout training and camp out experience, I developed a habit that every time I moved from point A to point B, my eyes were looking all around, noticing the neat looking plant or picking up an odd-looking rock to investigate. Through all this, I have developed a keen appreciation for God’s artwork – the beauty, the “How did that get here?”, the excitement of finding something I had not seen before.
When on camp outs with young scouts now, I try to infuse some of my love for nature. Again, the boys tend to see these two requirements as boxes to check to earn a 2nd and 1st Class rank. These requirements; however, are not designed to prove that one has studied the curriculum to pass the test. These endeavors are designed to open one’s eyes and mind to look at the big picture, God’s great masterpiece.
Today’s adult world bustle has caught up with me. The kid in me still lives but, unfortunately, I have to be an adult and do adult things. Sometimes I charge out from point A to point B and am adsorbed in my thoughts of the schedule of the day, projects on going, or stressed out that something is not going the way it should. I can screw myself into my personal world and feel the anxiety build. Then I walk out in the dark morning to get my newspaper and look up to see all the twinkling stars and the bright crescent moon above. I take a step back and adore God for giving me this grand morning sky with its billions of faraway stars and fiery moon set in the dark sky back drop – so beautiful! Thank you, God! Instantly, my day slows down and my anxiety level drops. In this revelation, I realize that the world does not revolve around me. God is in charge. My day runs so much better when I appreciate the gifts that God has so lovingly given me. Gifts that I do not deserve. How great is our God?
Do you want your day to be glorious? Take a minute look at the night sky and revel in the beauty of the stars, planets and moon. Watch the billowing and swirling cloud formations and be fascinated by their patterns and beauty. Listen to the sounds of the rush of the wind, the sounds of kids playing, even the pace of people and traffic whizzing by. Smell the fresh air after a rain storm. Take a look around; see some obscure thing that catches your eye; be amazed and ask the question, “What made God think to create something like this?” Just take a minute to pray to God thanking Him for designing this infinitely wonderful earth and universe. Be thankful. Be joyful. Amen