…and I must go. ~ John Muir
Last Wednesday I was attending some meetings in Colorado Springs that I was asked to be a part of. Because the meeting started at 8 am I had to fly out of Austin on Tuesday. I could have taken a flight that arrived Tuesday night but the mountains were calling so I took a flight Tuesday morning that had me arriving in Denver at 7 am, which afforded me a full day of hiking in the Rocky Mountains.
On the flight out, it wasn’t even 6 am yet, by pure chance the guy next to me has a screen shot of his cat on his phone, which catches the attention of the guy in the window seat. He proceeds to take out his phone and the two of them start sharing pictures and stories of their cats. Yes, their cats. Window guy shared about the time he spilled the cat food and how his cat looked at him and how funny it was. Middle row guy kept going on about how cute his cat was. I’ve never seen two guys try to one-up each other by trading cat stories, but it happened. Window guy said his cat played fetch with him and middle seat guy said he was training his cat to open the kitchen cabinet doors. For what reason I don’t know, but that’s what he said he was doing.
And it wasn’t like these were retired guys with nothing better to do than teach their cats life skills . Both of them where in their late 20’s. Window guy also tried to be cool by adding in the mother of all curse words into every sentence. Even if throwing down the f-bomb for no reason was a cool thing to do, you already disqualified yourself for Cool Guy of the Year because a) you have more than just a few pictures of your cat on your phone and b) you made up lies about the talent level of your cat in an attempt to be Mr. Cool.
When we landed I confiscated both their man cards. They of course cried like little children, which was to be expected.
Later that afternoon I was sitting on a rock looking out over the valley below and the thought came to me, God did not put into the heart of a man a longing to train cats. God put adventure, exploration, boldness, quest, a mission, into the heart of a man. And these desires will never be satisfied by training your cat to play fetch.
Regardless of what stage of life you are in, you need to find time to get alone in the outdoors. This could be hiking, fishing, biking, whatever it is, your soul needs it. John Eldridge says, “The Sacred Romance calls to us through experiences and rouses an inconsolable longing deep within our heart, wakening in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty, and adventure. This longing is the most powerful part of any human personality. It fuels our search for meaning, for wholeness, for a sense of being truly alive.” For me, this happens in the outdoors. I feel closest to God when I stand on top of a mountain, or walk in the middle of a forest and listen to the trees, or sit beside a flowing stream. Nothing matches the nearness I feel with God than in those times.
You might need to get creative to make it happen and it might take sacrifice on your part and probably on the part of others (like your wife and kids), but it’s worth it and you need it. I’m not able to randomly head out to Colorado whenever I want to, but in the past year I’ve had two meetings there and have made sure I’ve created space to enjoy time in the mountains as part of both those trips. It feeds your soul like nothing else can…so get out there!