I take my children hiking once a week. One of the sweet joys of homeschooling is passing on our love for and knowledge of the outdoors.
Having familiar places to be entirely surrounded by natural settings is life-giving to our souls, refreshing to our bodies, and restorative to our hearts-and-minds. So we hike a few trails, over and over throughout the year. We notice the changing of seasons. We watch and listen, we sing out loud, or recite the Great Shemah from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, or play in creeks, tromp through mud. We study nature, and go home to read about what we’ve discovered or noticed.
I had planned an afternoon hike on a particularly cold day, anticipating that we would catch some afternoon warmth. But the night before, it snowed; not much mind you–but enough to envelope all the dull grey and brown in a dazzling white coat. While continuing with our morning studies (ah, the joys of homeschooling) we noticed the fog and clouds roll out and a great dripping from all the nearby trees.
A Psalm I had meditated on often, but years ago, came to mind as I watched the sun melting all that beautiful snow; and quickly I knew I had to seize the marrow and fatness that lie before me. Pencils down, coats on, and up to the mountain we went. This is what Thoreau would call “living deliberately” but I would add the twist “to the glory of our Great God!” We went to the woods to live deliberately, to suck all the marrow and fatness out of the moment.
I want my children to find refreshment in enjoying God’s marvelous creation. I want them to learn to set good habits, live a somewhat orderly life, being able to complete tasks required of them. But I want them to live without being a slave to that schedule. They are too young to discuss the logic and the theology behind all this, but I hope to be laying a foundation of examples and life lessons.
We ran off to enjoy the woods before the snow was gone, and came home to finish the school work later. There are always worldly cares that will seem as though we have to tend to them at the same time or in the same manner. But so often, God would rather interrupt our well oiled machines with a glimpse of His beauty, His goodness, His power, His creativity, His love. The abundant life is only found in clinging to Him, it comes from and through Him; so as I raise my children I want them looking for those moments when God may be calling them to notice something more beautiful and satisfying than their planner.
Without any further ado, a much beloved Psalm to grow your heart. Slowly muse upon the words, let it fuel your prayers today. Psalm 63:
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirst for You, my flesh yearns for You,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your hesed (the original Hebrew word is far too beautiful for one English word! Click the link!) is better than life, my lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I life; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.