His feet plop down into the dry, red earth. His clumsy coordination changing to agile navigation before my eyes. He is slow. Slower than his big brother by the two years that span between them. He is my smeller of flowers, stopping to examine every smallest detail of the trail.
His Daddy hikes thirty feet ahead of us, holding onto his big brother’s hand, and carrying his baby brother in a pack on his back. We trail behind. I know that we have two miles ahead of us, and we should hurry. But hurry is not this one’s style.
Over our recent hikes, I have gradually come to realize that it is not his feet that are slow. Rather, he has slowed his attention—giving no thought to the idea of “hurry up”. In essence, he is being a kid; and kids stop to ponder. It intrigues me, and I learn to embrace his pauses, and bend down right next to him, examining the newest pebble that has caught his attention.
These hikes into the mountains, with his hand in mine and us making our way leisurely along behind the rest— these have become precious times to me. Side by side our feet navigate between, or over, rocks protruding from the earth. This is when finds himself most free to speak his mind. And I am learning that this not-quite-three-year-old boy has much to speak about; his thoughts soaked in wonder and intrigue.
“Do fish talk, Mom?” He asks it out of the blue as we round a corner; Daddy and brothers coming back into view ahead. At times we catch up to them, only to quickly fall behind again. My breathing becomes heavier as we climb the rocky path. And as I inhale, the overwhelming aroma of wildflowers catches me by surprise. “No Love, fish don’t talk.” I smile at his simple question. He is figuring out his world, question by question. “Oh.” He replies, and leaps off of a rock in the path.
As we hike he brings up memories from half of his life ago; events I haven’t thought about for quite some time. Obviously he has. They are a part of him. And this hike, I know, will be also; a part of him, and a part of me. A part of us.
“Oh Mom!” He stops me with the urgency in his voice. He bends low, slightly sunburned knees grazing the earth. “I spied something!” He lowers his face to inches from the ground. “It was this!” he exclaims. I squint. He fingers the pebbles, picks up a piece of mountain gravel the size of a poppy seed. And we rise and hike on.
I listen to his rhythmic hiccups until the sound of water crashing on rocks begins to drown them out. “Oh Mom! The waterfall! I found the waterfall!” He runs ahead. A mechanical voice sounds from the phone in my hiking pack, confirming that we have indeed taken a good many minutes to reach our destination. I find myself thankful for each one of those minutes, and every conversation woven throughout them as my boy and I slowed time and gave it new life.
I had brought a lot to the trail that evening. When we began our hike, my shoulders had ached. My head had pounded and my heart was heavy with burden. Yet with each unrushed minute on that path, I found myself that much further from the burdens of life. With his simple talk, intriguing memories, and attention to creation’s detail, my son somehow unwound all of the stress and anxiety gripping my spirit. He did this simply by reminding me to stop. To smell. To see. To linger. To live. Really live.
He reminds me that life is more than burdens and lists and to-dos and agendas and stress. And that it is also about more than simply stopping to smell the flowers. He taught me that smelling is not enough. That we must also touch. Name. Examine. Appreciate. Ask questions. Admire. Respect. And linger. And only then do the pressures of life become less. Only then do distractions and things of little matter fade into the background. Only then do we remember what matters most in life.
Take a lesson from my boy this week (I will be). Take a walk. Wherever you are. Through the sun or through the snow. In the rain or against the wind. A stroll through the city park, or a hike along a mountain ridge. And do. Not. Rush. Pause whenever you find something beautiful. Examine, admire, memorize. And don’t stop walking until the burdens and anxieties that you arrived at the path with become overwhelmed by the beauty of creation.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
This reminds me of when the daddy of your little ones was ice fishing with his daddy. He was examining the minnow that he was about to put on the hook to ‘catch’ a fish. He looked at that minnow a long time, daddy was watching, wondering what he was thinking. Then he licked the minnow! His dad asked “what do you think?” He shook his head , he did not like it. He was wondering why the fish liked them so much. ☺️????
Hahah!! I have never heard that story! Thank you! Explains so much 😉
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