I would not describe myself as “outdoorsy”. I have nothing against the outdoors, but I don’t seem to crave it like some others do. When I visualize a perfect day, it usually involves activities inside.
I do think you can feel the need to breathe air that isn’t artificially made and I do from time to time. So, I sit on my screened-in porch.
Recently, however, I spent most of the night outside. I was at a fundraiser for a public garden and was surrounded by beautiful flowers, giant shade trees, and calm water. My soul was at peace, which makes me think that we are built to seek nature.
Biblical scripture, literature, music, poetry, visual arts, and so many other media tout the beauty and majesty of nature. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Maybe because I spend so much of my time indoors, this craving develops without my recognizing it until it’s filled.
In my part of the country, there are things that can limit one’s desire to be outside this time of the year: heat and humidity. You have to really want to be out there to linger outdoors. And once you’ve managed to transcend the weather, the bugs come after you.
But even that process of sweating while outside can be cathartic. I am a runner and much prefer to run outdoors-even in summer-than on a treadmill. My running coach uses the phrase “Sweat cleans places that soap can’t touch” and I think this is a perfect description for the poured-out, blissful exhaustion I feel after a run in the heat. Just as impurities are melted away from metals in the heat, a lot of physical and mental impurities come pouring out.
But, back to a more desirable outdoor experience. I think that spending time in nature, particularly a public garden, is part of the good around me. The first human habitat in the Bible takes place in a garden and I think it’s a setting that we unwittingly long for. It’s an oasis in the middle of a busy city. It’s a place where folks saunter instead of rush from one place to another. Families engage with one another and parents teach their children. Couples walk hand in hand and enjoy light-hearted conversation. In the midst of a time of chaos, it’s as close as I can come to a perfect world.