Saturday, November 01, 2008


One of our recent family goals has been to really ratchet it up a notch when it comes to the Family Proclamation's counsel on wholesome family activities. To that end, we've set aside two hours every Saturday that are exclusively family time (with one Saturday a month for doing service as a family during this time).

So today we opted to take advantage of the balmy and absolutely beautiful November day by going on a bike ride at our favorite park. We got off to a late start because of some serious three-year-old battles, so we were all a bit grumpy setting out. Plus that whole Halloween candy thing (we skipped the stake trunk-or-treat because I didn't want that much candy, so we just went down one street in our neighborhood, but when we got home and everyone had a piece of candy, which is a REAL rarity around here--well, let's just say that Juliet ate three pieces of candy corn and threw up, Abigail ate a box of Mike and Ikes and said she felt "really sick in my tummy," and I ate a fun-size Butterfinger and got a killer headache. At least I felt good about the fact that we normally eat so well that when we overindulged we all feel terrible, but did that stop me from eating two more Butterfingers? Nope). Anyway, I was a little worried about whether this was going to be family fun, or fear of family.

Then we finally got everything unloaded and everyone strapped and buckled and we were off, and everything just sort of fell away. The trail was overhung with swooping arches of color--yellow, red, orange, and every shade in between. The leaves here are at the point where they're fully changed--no half-yellow, half-green--everything is flamboyantly and utterly scarlet or gold. The temperature was at that perfect point where you're comfortable in jeans and short sleeves, and the kids were happily devouring a ridiculous quantity of Goldfish. So we biked along by the dry streambed, gaping at all the gorgeous colors and light around us, and having a great time talking and laughing. We biked the length of the park and detoured to the Asian grocery store, then headed back to the car.

The way back through the park was all downhill, and there was hardly anyone else there, so for an entire mile we sped down the trail without braking or pedaling. Leaves were drifting down all around us, and the only noise I could hear was the soft crunch of the leaves and the whirring of the bike's tires against the trail. The occasional squirrel scampered across in front of us, and sunlight slanted through the trees as we rounded each new curve

And I thought, "This is it. I am absolutely, perfectly, and utterly content, right now at this very moment. I could not ask for anything more."

When we got to the bottom, I said to Neil, "That was perfect. That was sheer happiness."

And he said, "I felt the same way. Do you want to bike back up to the top and do it again?"

And I replied, "No...I want to remember the way I felt at that moment. I don't want to try it again and have it not be the same."

And he said, "I know exactly what you mean. Let's go home."

And so we did. Back to our regular lives, but uplifted and happy from those five perfect minutes in the woods where the only thing we had to worry about was rounding the next curve smoothly and avoiding the squirrels. Gazing at the achingly beautiful scene around us. Reveling in the moment without looking forward or backward or thinking about what's for dinner or what didn't get finished before we left.

When was the last time that happened to you--that you felt a single incandescent moment of pure happiness and utter contentment and peace, the feeling that everything was absolutely right in your world?

And if it's been awhile, what are you going to do to recapture it?

Really, I'd love to know.


Nate and Nicole said...

Singing to and cuddling with my baby tonight before he went to bed. That is the absolute best.

Kilerkki said...

I honestly cannot remember a time when I haven't been worrying about what to do next or caught up in some ongoing project or planning out some upcoming aspect of my day. I did sit outside for 15 minutes today while I was waiting for Ruth, and watch the leaves falling around me...and work on my paper. I envy you that perfect moment. (And, may I say, your gorgeous writing in describing it?)

I'm looking forward to family and Christmas. I think that's as close to perfect as I can get.

Elise Decker said...

i was actually walking home from class the other day and i was just looking at all the beautiful colors of the leaves and the mountains behind them, and i just thought, "Wow, Heavenly Father sure made this world beautiful for us"...but I have to say, Christmas will be pretty amazing.

Meghan said...

AT some point this year--I don't remember when it was--I thought about my children and the good choices they are making and the kind, generous people they have become, and I was perfectly content. I also realized that everyone was stressed, and that the future might hold tougher times, but that right now everyone was in a good place, doing good things, and the world is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday our scout troop helped on an Eagle project for a scout from a brother troop. We were removing old fence a remote trail at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. I was walking back to the cars with one of our scouts who doesn't enjoy the outdoors. He was asking what time it was for the nth time. We discussed why he cared and what he would rather be doing.

I suggested that he enjoy being in the woods while he was there, and looked around at the trees and rocks myself. It was kind of a run-of-the-mill area in the eastern hardwoods with oaks and hickory's towering 75+ feet overhead, brilliant green moss- covered rocks scattered about and a carpet of yellow, orange and red leaves crunching underfoot. Utterly beautiful. All it takes as Elise and Kilerkki note in their comments is a few moments to really notice the utterly gorgeous world that Heavenly Father has created for our enjoyment and his sense of satisfaction in a job well done.

After working at home I went to dinner (Chin/Chins in Mattawan and we think that you and your sisters will love the place) with 2 of Heavenly Father's finest creation. The breathtaking beauty of nature has nothing against the perfect functioning of the human body and the wonderful personality of his daughters.

Love you,

Mary Beth said...

Maybe I will take an aimless walk today, in between all the meetings. That seems to be the key right now.

(Also, I FINALLY figured out how to change my display name! Now I'm no longer the weird one!)

Ruth Decker said...

Jordan usually cleans up our house more than I do because I am at school all the time and very very busy. Yesterday he got sick and when he came home from work, he was so excited that I had cleaned and especially done the huge pile of dishes (usually he does the dishes). Seeing his gratitude that he could crash on the couch and sleep for a couple hours was pretty perfect, even though I still had a lot of other things to worry about.

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