Metropolitan DC was experiencing its third day of 97-degree-plus temperatures. The heat index stayed stuck in triple digits. I longed for the coolness of a mountain stream shaded by the overhanging boughs of giant hemlocks. I imagined myself moving across the rocks in the streambed, nimble and surefooted, like a mountain goat. On a chosen rock, I would stop to sit and dip my toes into the cool water. The swiftly moving current would massage my feet. My entire body would relax and be renewed.
I ventured out into this suburban desert to tie a surprise thank-you balloon on a friend’s door. No one was home. Selfishly, I hoped for their delayed return. Across the yard in clear view, I spotted my oasis, a suitable substitute for a mountain stream.
Quickly I removed my socks and sneakers. Barefoot, I skipped across the lawn, stopping where small puddles had formed in the grass. Stepping into one, I disturbed a swallowtail butterfly that was “puddling.” Softened soil oozed between my toes. I stood perfectly still-waiting. Soon my oasis moved directly overhead, forming a 90-degree angle with the earth. Gracefully, it slowly lowered itself to the ground, wetting everything in its path. Sunlight made rainbow colors cling to descending water droplets.
This arc of water continued to move back and forth across the lawn. I felt my body begin to move, too. The motion of my outstretched arms resembled that of the butterfly’s wings that had just taken flight. There was no particular rhythm-no syncopated beat to which I danced with the sun, a cloudless blue sky and the gentle breeze that whispered through a canopy of leaves high overhead. My feet simply carried me in and out of the path of the sprinkler. In the grace of the moment, oblivious to everything around me, I experienced a sense of a newly found freedom. It seemed I was one with the universe. When I finally stopped moving, my water soaked t-shirt clung to my body. Now matted and limp, my hair begged to be combed.
I found myself scanning the horizon for witnesses to my childlike behavior. What would the neighbors think? Would they be quick to report the sighting of an adult whirling and twirling with abandon beneath the spray of a garden sprinkler? When I spotted my saggy, soggy reflection in my car window, laughter replaced any questioning thoughts. The joy of the spontaneity of the moment returned. All that mattered was that I had permitted myself to be alive to the world around me.
How easy it is to keep wonder and awe, the gifts given to us as children, buried beneath the busyness of living out each day. We forget that God created us in the image of the One who loved life.