Outdoor Play and God

Last week Scruffy pointed out an interesting article about outdoor play. It is written by secular scientists who are researching the connection between outdoor play, spirituality, and environmental appreciation. Now the Michigan State University Investigators have barely taken a glimpse at this fascinating concept. But I think they have tapped into an age old truth that further research will only confirm.

Romans 1:20–“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, so that men are without excuse.”

It is 7:31am and I am in my favorite puffy chair at the Staff house writing. If I glance out the window up toward the cabins, I see the mottled morning shadows in the undergrowth that creeps across the hillside and shaggy strips of lichen draping the puzzle piece bark of Ponderosa Pines. I hear birdsong from nearby branches and shoo away a squirrel that tries to break into our home through a gap by the air-conditioner. There is something of God in these simple and powerful sights. Something that tugs at the soul.

A lung-full of crisp morning air and the brush of bright leaves across your skin, the crunch of pine needles under your feet as you run and the wind drying the sweat in your hair when you top the ridge after a long hike. The grumbling strength of a bear and the fluid grace of a deer bounding across the meadow. These things speak of God.

A child, hiking and dancing, running and falling and frolicking and imagining. A child out in God’s creation begins to understand all these things. Just as anyone who is near God is amazed and apprehensive, awed and comforted. Nature has that effect upon us, because it is His. Is it any wonder that a child would understand that we must cherish the splendid world that speaks to us of God? That we must not trample upon the works of His hands.

An ancient truth. But no less vital for this generation of children.

So as these secular scientists suggest, we must get out little ones outdoors. Let them feel a caterpillar rolling across their skin. Allow them the warmth of sunlight on their closed eyelids. Walk them past the fierce chittering squirrel and the bounding hare, the massive bull elk blowing frosty clouds of breath on an October morning and the silent cougar that is but a flash before it is gone. These things speak of God and so many people are missing them. 

This is something that a week at summer camp can offer to the children entrusted to us. We sing about God and learn about God from the camp speaker, but sometimes the walk up to the cabin and that fleeting glimpse of a doe and her fawn is even more profound. God is here, in the Glory of His creation and we shall become a sorry people indeed, if we miss Him as He walks among us.


Boo Boo