My family likes to tell the story of 2-year old Stacy who loved to go hiking so much that once, when I was sick and napping on a camping trip, my dad whispered he was going to take my siblings hiking so they wouldn’t wake me up. That word was like a bolt of lightning. I woke, jumped out of bed, and with blankets still draped over my head said, “Hiking?” I was not going to be left behind.
Being outdoors has always been my joy. It’s where I become playful. I feel free of time, free of expectations for how I should behave or how my body should look. It’s where curiosity is rewarded with breathtaking views and new discoveries. American theologian and Baptist minister Walter Rauschenbusch wrote, “Play is anything we do for the joy and love of doing it, apart from any profit, compulsion or sense of duty. It is the real living of life with the feeling of freedom and self-expression.” Remarkably, play is similar to the teachings I’ve received about the Sabbath and other religious experiences.