For several years now, our family has spent a week in October avoiding the Louisiana heat in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We camp and roast marshmallows and go for hikes and soak up all the fall colors that we don’t get to see at home.
Every year that we’ve done this, we’ve had a toddler in tow.
A six-mile hike through woods, up hills, and across streams with adults and teens is one thing. A six-mile hike with a toddler is something different. It’s more like a six-mile mosey.
And some of us on such a toddler-inclusive hike get a little frustrated by the slow pace that comes with allowing a three-year-old to walk. There are summits to reach, after all.
In reality, it is hard to go so slowly. I find that it’s almost painful to make my stride so artificially short, especially going down-hill. I get irritated, and spend a lot of energy trying not to say, “Come on! Hurry up!” too often.
And then God reminds me of the gift that slowing down can be.
If I hadn’t turned around to hand Jacob the water, I would have missed the black and yellow bird darting into the bush.
If I hadn’t been watching his steps for him, I would have missed the glitter in the rocks under our feet.
Our sitting reasonably still for a snack lets the chipmunk grow comfortable enough to show himself.
Adult hikers in fancy gear, solo or in pairs, breeze past us on their way to the summit, which we may or may not reach this trip. Meanwhile, we stop to look at a weird mushroom, and I almost feel sorry for all those who don’t have a toddler to slow them down, pull them towards the earth, and remind them: “Look!”
Psalm 46 reminds us to “Be still and know that I am God.” There is not a lot of stillness involved in raising our three-year-old, but maybe the verse can be expanded in my understanding a little: “Be slow. Enjoy. Know that I made all this out of love.”
And I pray, “Help us slow down, Lord, so that we have time to see your goodness.”