reflect
verb
re•flect
4 : to make manifest or apparent
// the pulse reflects the condition of the heart

5 : REALIZE, CONSIDER

6 : to bend or fold back

7 : archaic: to turn into or away from a course : DEFLECT

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The thing I have loved the most about this time of COVID is the amount of time we’ve been outside. Growing up, I spent gobs of time outside. I think that is true for most children. There is something in us that longs for the outdoors, the fresh air, open sky, dirt, and spiky grass beneath our feet.

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I saw it with my oldest when he was just a baby. He loved to be outside. Every morning, we would do our morning routine of quiet play, eating breakfast, me drinking coffee, then clothes and outside. He had a love for the outdoors that stayed until recently. Now he’s a teenager and it’s harder to get him out. He still has his moments of playing with sticks, except now they are logs he can hurl into a creek or river.

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The home we lived in until I was 9 had a creek in the backyard. I spent hours playing in the squishy, slimy, mud. I could fashion it into bowls and pots then let it bake in the sun and harden. There was a small copse that I would crawl under the branches into the open space in the middle and set up house. I’d hang my belongings in the limbs, cook with the berries growing around me, watch the light change, and shift above me. The way the light danced through the leaves, descending down to the ground, illuminating small spaces and large has always fascinated me.

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My middle boys have struggled with the outdoors. When they were younger they both had a lot of different sensory needs that made going outside hard. There was a summer when Gavyn was perhaps one and a half that I hardly went outside. When we would venture to the great outdoors he would just cry, poor guy. We actually wrote a PT goal for him to go outside and not cry while standing in the grass. Nevin has a fear of bugs that continues to today. It is very real and makes it hard for him to be out in buggy weather. I remember taking him to The Butterfly House when he was around two, thinking we would have a great time, he was horrified by all the flying insects. Poor boy. They have both come a long way and can genuinely enjoy the outdoors now. Gavyn amazes me when he picks up bugs, worms, fish, no fear, no aversion to the texture, he just grabs them up with no looking back. That’s years of therapy, tears, perhaps blood. Thank you, Jenny and Adele. Man did we persevere with those boys and their tears.

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When I was nearing ten we moved to a new home. One away from my creek and large backyard. A home in the middle of a historic town. I spent hours riding my bike down sidewalks, past houses from the early 1900s. Up and down cobblestone streets. I can still feel the bump of the bricks under my legs. Half of our backyard had a garden from the previous owner. Dad taught us to vegetable garden. You could grow just about anything in that velvet dirt created by years of tender care from the owner before us. I can still feel the silk of it between my fingers. I long for that dirt in my garden now. I compost with the hopes of recreating it, perhaps in ten years from now. When I wasn’t on my bike or in the garden I’d build little fairy houses and leave them around the side and front yard. The tiniest creations fastened from sticks, moss, grass, and flowers. I always hoped I’d catch one.

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Gideon is 8 and there is no time in your life quite as magical as when you are 8. You’re big enough for more independence, you can be counted on to help, you still want to please the adults in your life, you like to listen and learn, the world is your playground. Gideon has always been full of magic and light. I see it more and more during this time and even more when we are outdoors. He loves the camping, the hiking, the fishing, the stargazing, the life. Every rock, wave, breeze, and star holds wonder and amazement. I want to be Gideon.

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I am not sure if there is anything more healing in this world than outside.

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Gazing at the Milkway in Florida and watching shooting stars. Feeling the grass under my head while camping in Missouri, my oldest and youngest staying with me to look at the constellations. It reminds you how small you are. How you can’t control it all. You just have to be. You have to learn to release some of it. It is vaster than we could ever hold.

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Feeling the gentle cool breeze on my cheek while floating down the river. Watching the dragonflies flit around the canoe remind me how I’m stronger than the smaller creatures. It’s my duty to care for them and steward them well.

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Walking in the dense woods, surrounded by trees larger than you thought possible, older and wiser than I could ever be. They’ve weathered thousands of storms, protecting the deer and her fawn from the elements. The deer stand at eye level, watching us as we walk past, waiting to see where we will go. And I know we are the same, her protecting her young and me mine. We are all more equal than we’d like to admit. Why do we long to point out our differences when we are all more alike than different?

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Nature teaches me to see the world in a new way every time I go out. It draws me closer to God and reveals his mysteries. It tells me I’m capable of doing great things, small things, ordinary things, and they all matter, they all count.