July 25, 2013
Off My Own Beaten Path
My two older children were invited to play with my niece and nephew, leaving me with just Kerrinton, our three-year-old, for the morning. Together we ran errands, but once I crossed the obligatory items off my responsible adult list, she and I spent the remaining time at a park.
It wasn't the park that we typically visit, nor the other two parks that we occasionally visit. I drove instead to a neighborhood that I've passed through only once or twice before, one I vaguely remember having a small playground.
I've heard it said that joy can be found by shaking up your typical routine. Even as a person who thrives on relative predictability, I still appreciate inviting change, however small, into my life.
Sometimes that's just taking your child to a different park on a typical Thursday morning.
Despite knowing that I was in my small community (a place where driving "all the way across town" takes under 20 minutes), standing in this new location made me feel gloriously disassociated; I could have been anywhere. (I experience this same untethered feeling when I arrive in a new airport.)
Before picking up my other daughters, Kerrington and I drove down several side streets near the park. We wound our way through neighborhoods where the ordinary lives of people unfold: taking out the trash, bringing in the mail, cutting the grass, sweeping the sidewalks. Yet to me, there was a delicious novelty about it. The unfamiliar roads, the inviting path of an unexplored garden, the pleasing shade of a well-established oak tree -- all of it kindled something fresh in my soul.
This summer has been a time where I've stepped back and slowed down. I needed to. I've read and prayed and quieted myself and listened. With my professional responsibilities largely on hold until the fall semester begins, I've been able to step off the hamster wheel and remember how good -- how necessary -- it is to be, just be, in the presence of God and to enjoy beauty for beauty's sake.
A heaviness that I've been carrying is lifting off my shoulders, and like ground after a drought, I feel that parched areas in my life are being saturated, that cracked places are being softened, and that rough ways are being smoothed.
This morning, the breeze didn't blow more gently and the sun didn't shine more brightly at this park than at our typical park. But simply because I wasn't at our typical park, perhaps I noticed them more.
May fresh breezes blow your way today, too.
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Image compliments of net_efekt (Flickr.com)