Oct 4 2009

An Unquenchable Curiosity

Monticello flowers 52This past Thursday evening I attended the U2 concert in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Earlier in the day I decided I’d go up to Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson.  When the tour I was on got to Jefferson’s library the guide noted that Mr. Jefferson had many interests—architecture, science, natural history, etc.  She then shared a line from one of his writings, “…there is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me…”  I wanted to make sure I heard her right so I asked her to repeat the quote.  Apparently this great patriot had an unquenchable curiosity.

I have always admired Thomas Jefferson.  I remember reading where John F. Kennedy once hosted a dinner for a group on Nobel laureates at the White House.  He indicated to those present that there had never been a greater gathering of intelligence than when Thomas Jefferson dined there alone.  Jefferson truly did have an incredible mind. 

Most of us will never have a mind like Jefferson but we can follow in his steps if we will learn to be more curious.  In this sense he was almost childlike.  Children marvel at everything around them and ask countless questions.  They are eager to learn.  Unfortunately, as time goes on they tend to lose their curiosity and inquisitiveness.  Many grow old before their time.

Jesus once said that “unless you become like children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”  One of the things he may have had in mind here is the child’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder.  I think he found these traits commendable.  I also think that he would like to see us hold onto them.  God has provided us with a remarkable world to live in.  There is so much to see, hear, touch, taste, smell  and experience.  We’ll miss out on a lot of it if we cease being curious. 

Maybe now would be a good time to go outside and take another look at the sprigs of grass shooting up, or the autumn leaves that are falling, or the stars that are passing overhead, or the dew droplets on a spider web.  There are marvels without number waiting for those with an unquenchable curiosity and behind them a Creator who loves us all.

Monticello 676–Chuck

(I took the pictures above while at Monticello this past Thursday. Jefferson not only designed Monticello but oversaw the planting of flowers and trees. I do not know the name of the species of flower shown but am confident Jefferson would have.)


Sep 9 2009

Exposing Kids to Nature

Clingmans Dome sunrise 379My father would have been 85 years old today.  He died 24 years ago but I still miss him a lot.  Robert Edwin Summers, Jr. is remembered for his love of his family, his strong work ethic and his faith.  He was a very good father.

The reason I am writing about my Dad today is not just because it is his birth date.  I also want to recognize the role he played in my love for nature.  When I was very young my family took a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was one of my father’s favorite places and we made a number of trips there, usually in the fall.  As a youngster, I fell in love with the mountains.

Also in my childhood Dad bought a boat and camper.  Although we did not go often we spent some wonderful times as a family in the Land Between the Lakes area in western Kentucky.  What fun it was to swim in the lake and camp in the woods!

I am very thankful for the exposure my father gave me to the outdoors and nature as a child.  I have no doubt that it had much to do with my current love of Creation.  All of this leads me to my present concern that many children today are not getting the same exposure.  It seems fewer and fewer kids are connected to nature. 

I recently came across an article that shares four reasons exposure to nature is essential for our children’s well-being.  The reasons shared are 1) time outside has a direct impact on a child’s development; 2) time outside can help prevent sensory over-load and over-reliance on the material world; 3) time outside boosts creativity, confidence and focus; potentially relieving symptoms of attention and learning disorders; and 4) time outside can help our children appreciate and understand the planet despite confusing and troubling messages from the media.

To this list I would add time outside can help children better understand and experience God.  As Rob and I frequently point out in this blog, God often reveals Himself through His Creation.  Children will not have a chance to experience this if they are not given opportunities to enjoy nature.  I am so thankful for a father who helped instill in me a love of nature and in the process an even greater love for my heavenly Father.

–Chuck

(The picture above was taken at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.)