The time I spent outside this summer, despite the incredible heat, was so enjoyable. This is a park/nature/God appreciation post.
At one point I had a more detailed plan for this post, but then I left myself half-written notes and let it all sit for a few weeks, positive that I would remember exactly what I wanted to say. Unsurprisingly, I do not remember everything! Regardless, this post gives a closer look at one of the non-bookish activities that has taken up a lot of my reading time this season. There is also a slideshow at the end of some of my favorite pictures that I took over the past 3ish months.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV)
Throughout my master’s program I knew that I missed spending time outside, but somehow I also forgot the inherent joy that comes from relaxing with the feeling of the sun sinking into my skin and walking for the simple pleasure of it – not because I have somewhere to be or something to accomplish, but simply because it is good to move and appreciate the bit of nature left in the city.
Over the summer months it has also become a theme that I check in on the ducks at the park whenever I get the chance. It’s become such a thing that this is now how some of my friends greet me! Rather than asking about work or anything else, it’s “how are the ducks doing?” And, honestly, I’m happy that things are this way. So, there are plenty of waterfowl in the pictures below as well.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.Matthew 10:30-31 (ESV)
There is a trend on Instagram (which I think was migrated from TikTok, but I cannot confirm that) where people make reels that start with the saying “Can we skip to the good part?” and show themselves starting a project or trying something new. There are two endings to this trend: some videos then say “No!” and show the person hilariously failing at whatever they were attempting, while others include dramatic music and show either a beautifully completed project or the same person in a seemingly blissful environment. My time in the parks this summer has been both. Yes, much of this summer has been the ‘good part’ – finally, after searching for years, I’ve committed to a church that I respect and where I am growing both spiritually and relationally, so I’m not spending my free time researching the next place to visit. I’ve had time to enjoy being outside and basking in the sun. I’m watching the ducks and the sunset and listening to podcasts and Bible studies. But it hasn’t been a seamless transition. I can’t just ‘skip’ the fact that it comes on the heels of a long season of uncertainty, searching, and isolation. It’s also been days of trying to get back into running and discovering that I need to remember asthma is a struggle, especially when it is warm and humid. It’s been an endless attempt to regain a decent sleep schedule, and trying to bargain with myself when friends want to play virtual games later than I intended to be up because that is the only time everyone is available. It’s been going through all the alarm options I have in order to dedicate more of my morning to Bible study and prayer. It’s been learning that letting myself love again in a more meaningful way inevitably means saying goodbye sooner than I would like. It’s been seeing God work in ways that are subtle and some that are obvious, and leaning into the discomfort of not knowing what will come next, but knowing that today is proof enough that it will be worth it.
“The Sound of a Living Heart” by JJ Heller
I have found a better life
A hero and a cause
Every tear will be redeemed
In the hands of God
I hear Jesus calling me
Out of the grave I’ve been sleeping in
With new lungs
I’ll begin again
Lift my voice and sing my part
This is the sound of a living heart
So here is the slightest glimpse of my summer and some of the places and moments that I loved. May the sunshine I enjoyed bring a little bit of brightness to your life too.
And, because at least half of the time I have an earbud in while I’m at the park, here are a few of my favorite things to listen to recently:
When being contemplative: Calm A Cappella Playlist
When I want to exercise or want something more upbeat: Summer 2022 Playlist
Current favorite background music for reading or watching the ducks: This is Hollow Coves Playlist
Do you have a go-to place when you want to enjoy time outside?
Until the next chapter,