nature and i – a strained relationship
so the thing is, me and nature havent had the best of relationships. i mean, growing up i would spend a week at a time with her, usually camping with other churchfolk, and it was fun.
but once i went away to school i was wooed by the siren song of personal computers and air-conditioned office spaces, and since then camping has basically been out of the question. sure, there’s been a brief rendez-vous here and there. erica and i camped out for two nights for our first anniversary (the vhs tape of which is floating around our house right now) and that was fun. we’ve been back to the Creation Festival a few times since we met there, and while that technically is camping, i wouldnt call it nature by any means. That’s more like a christian meat market where young boys and girls are giving off pheromones faster than a baptist minister can give away “Flee thee from Hell” tracts. I did try to take Erica camping this past August for our 7th anniversary, but in the end we just ended up staying in a hotel or something.
This whole thing has never been a huge problem for erica, but it certainly is something that bugs her. She loves the outdoors. Her fondest memories of childhood are of ski trips in the winter, trips to Black Rock camp in the summer, and spending most every moment of her formative years outside. She even spent 10 days hiking the Appalachian Trail when she was 16, and counts almost stepping on a rattlesnake as a positive experience. She never nags me about our lack of outdoor fun, but she does let me know that she would love to hike, camp, and enjoy those types of four-letter words more with me, but she knows i don’t like toÂ do those things. To be honest,Â I’ve plannedÂ a few of these types of trips in my head in recent years, but when push comesÂ to shove they just don’t happen.
That whole backstory is relevant right now for 2 reasons. #1) a new friend of mine has invited me to go do some of these outdoorsy type things this fall and #2) i am in california right now marveling at the beauty of God’s creation.
As far asÂ reason #2, reading Don Miller has certainly helped me to appreciate nature more. That seems stupid toÂ type because you’d think thatÂ nature itself is beautiful enough toÂ make me appreciate it.Â But I’ve just been avoiding it for so long that it has become a bit of an afterthought. So when i hear Don describing nature in the eloquent way that he does describe things, it resonates with me. Being here in california, with it’s winding canyon roads, towering hills, and neverending shoreline, I’ve been noticing it more, and actually feeling urges to explore it. It’s like the culmination of a few things in my head is finally making this nature thing click. Suddenly the thought of getting sore and sweaty from an all day hike in God’s creation doesn’t seem like a nightmare to me. i used to categorize it as such without even thinking about what i was doing. But now, it seems appealing.
I’ve been trying to tell Erica this, but i can’t seem to find the right words. For so long she has dealt with my aversion to the outdoors, that i think she won’t believe me.
Not to mentionÂ Reason #1. A few weeks ago a new friend of mine from the Pacific Northwest invited me to come out to Portland to hang out with a bunch of guys for a few days and see God’s creation and camp out and maybe ride a river and have a couple beers. I would never miss such an opportunity for the company i’d be with, but perhaps you see why i feelÂ a little guiltyÂ about it. I think it appears to Erica as if i am going to do something that i hate doing just to be with Don and some other blokes when i have never made that sacrifice for her. I admit this is partly true, and to my shame, embarrassing. If I am honest with myself, i do feel bad about this.
But honestly, this is something that’s been stirred up in me for the past 6 months. I hadn’t said anything to Erica about it, but like i mentioned before, reading Don and starting to see nature differently, I had started to want to do stuff like this. Part of it was wanting to be a better husband, but part of it was also that i was being wooed by God’s creation in the same way that coding web pages wooed me 10 years ago. In fact, i was planning on taking her on a day trip to Mt. ManadnockÂ this summer when we were in New England. I was going to try and surprise her with it, but oh well, honey if you are reading this now you know.
I guess the point of it all is this. I think i am ready to fall in love with nature again. Maybe i should have fallen in love with it because Erica loves it. I definitelyÂ should have fallen in love with it because it is God’s creation and it is intrisically valuable and beautiful. Those seem to be noble reasons for sure, butÂ up to this point in my lifeÂ it just wasn’t happening. I was blinded by air conditioned offices and HTML tags.Â But when you add to those other reasonsÂ the writing of an eloquent doofus in Portland, hisÂ invite to me to enjoy some of the nature in his backyard with him and his friends, and a timely trip to the beautiful state of California, it has stirred something inside of me that I haven’t felt in a long time. A desire to enjoy nature and be outside.
Sorry this was so long andÂ probably not worth your time. But it was something i needed to say andÂ itÂ feels good to say it. Thanks for listening.
And erica my love…you, me, and Manadnock…I’ll race you to the top.