“The soul longs for passion, for freedom, for life.” -John Eldredge
Recently, my dad and I spent several hours trekking through the Great Smoky Mountains. (Tomorrow, I’ll share my adventure with you in both words and photos.) I kept noticing a common trend – everyone was so friendly, so free, and so engaging. With a wave and a genuine, “How are you?”, we acknowledged each passing hiker on the trails, and more often than not, individuals would pause long enough to engage us in conversation and vice versa.
Back in civilization, or cities made of asphalt, what do people generally do when you pass them on the street? How about when strolling past strangers at the mall? You know the drill. Don’t make eye contact. Look every which way other than directly at them so that they don’t think you’re some weird stalker. Actually, I try to make eye contact with others to see if they will give a hint of a “hello” or at least a head nod. It’s a interesting experiment to see how far someone will go to avoid eye contact.
Nonetheless, people are caught up in their own lives, the busyness of coming and going, keeping appointments, and living the “American dream.” Out on the trails, however, none of those soul-draining tasks matters. Our souls and senses are wide open to the world around us. We are stripped of our own agenda. The passion and freedom return, as we experience God’s magnificent beauty and find nourishment for our hearts. People have time to pause and engage with one another.
“The whole creation is unapologetically wild. God loves it that way.” -John Eldredge
Not only do we discover room to breathe, but we also rekindle our God-given need for adventure. Just like us, our fellow hikers were out on the trail searching. Some or most of them may not have known what they were searching for, but they were on a journey of adventure. They were seeking an escape from the rat race in order to find rest, to exercise, to be still, to spend time with the Creator, to experience a little risk away from modern comforts. Where else can we find such freedom, ruggedness, and stillness?
Who knows? Maybe it will cause us to stop and say “hello” a little more often.
In your life, where do you find people who are willing to stop and say “hello?”