On June 5, our family ate dinner outside. We used plastic plates and cups. The meal was not fancy, just hot dogs and grilled vegetables, baked beans, cucumber salad and watermelon. Even though the food was simple, we were all in good spirits just because we were together outdoors.
There is something good and healthy about spending time together outdoors. The pace of tonight’s meal was slow. The conversation was animated. The laughter was flowing freely. Somehow, changing the location of the meal from our dining room table to our back yard seemed to bring us all to life. There was a holiness about being outside together.
This experience made me think about other times when being outdoors was transformative for members of our family. One Mother’s Day, the kids gave me a book of local hiking trails and then we chose one path and we all went hiking together. As we walked along, helping each other over rough patches, I could sense that we were strengthening the bonds between us in a special way. It was a glorious day and a Mother’s Day that I will never forget.
Another outdoor experience that is special to us is taking a "dark walk." When our children were little, going on a walk after the sun went down felt special and holy. As they have grown older, going for walks together after dark has seemed to achieve a special significance. Some days, when we could not get a teen to talk during the light of day, a walk in the dark would give us the opportunity for a fresh start, and thoughts and feelings would finally come spilling out.
Maybe we are more relaxed when we are outside. Maybe being out in God’s creation makes us more aware of the blessing of being together. Maybe we are better able to listen to each other outside, without the indoor distractions. It is good for us to spend time together outdoors.