The weather here in our part of the world could not have been more beautiful this weekend. Considering it a near sin to stay indoors with weather so inviting, I shoo-ed my kids outside on Saturday and set out to join them.
But, I live in a town home community, and while this type of living arrangement definitely has its advantages, e.g. endless opportunities for relationship and service to one's neighbor, close proximity to stores and other conveniences, small plots of land for which to care, it wasn't those conveniences I needed or desired this weekend.
I wanted an outdoor refuge.
I like one of the definitions of refuge at "yourdictionary.com"--"a place of safety; shelter; safe retreat".
When I pass the threshold of my front door and close it behind me, I know that I'm in a place of refuge, a place of safety and retreat from the hardships, strains, and temptations that are outside my home, even though there is certainly some of that within my home, too.
But, I also discovered this weekend that I desire outdoor refuges as well. God has given us fresh air to breath, changing seasons to experience in all their unique qualities, sunshine to take in as natural medication from the stresses of life.
The "community" of town home living is a bit smothering for me at times, and I can be tempted to grumble for the lack of personal space. I was faced with such temptation this Saturday, but God's Spirit kindly and swiftly prompted me to give thanks instead for the outlets He HAS provided to me as outdoor refuges.
We have an abundance of local playgrounds in Harford County, our tax dollars put to good use! And, my family certainly does make use of them. In addition, however, God has provided a few other family-favorite, outdoor refuges. One is a local garden, Ladew Gardens and one not as local but larger scale garden, Longwood Gardens, both of which we're privileged to be members.
If, like me, you long for an outdoor refuge and aren't able to enjoy one in your own back yard, consider investing in a membership to some outdoor space such as a garden, historical site or farm. The benefits of a membership versus just a visit is the access at low peak times (i.e. less people...when I get outside I don't want to share. :) The idea is SPACE to roam, quiet to think and take in all the wonders of God's creation.
Enjoy a few slideshow pictures (click on the top picture to see the entire slideshow) from some of our excursions to Ladew, Longwood and a local historic site, Jerusalem Mill.