Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pagan Values: Go Play Outside!

"Go play outside," my dad would tell us on nice summer days. And my brother and I would go tumbling out the backdoor, ready to climb trees or dance through the sprinkler in the backyard, eager to splash through neighborhood creeks, scale old wooden jungle gyms, or chase after frisbees in the wide meadowy fields nearby. Never mind the scrapes and bruises (and two broken arms in one summer!), the muddy pant cuffs and worn-through knees, the sunburns and bug bites. "Go play outside." What a simple, wonderful command!

And it's one I'm still as eager to follow, as I am to give. Sometimes I think that simple, earnest suggestion, more than anything else, has been the most valuable and meaningful gift Druidry has given me these past several years. The encouragement and the permission to go outside and play; it's something that we need more as adults when so many Serious Important Grown-Up Things seem to demand our time and attention. Just learning to lighten up, be silly, climb a tree or collect pretty stones and weeds in the park, run or dance or skip or throw my arms up towards the sun--I need those things, those moments and opportunities to be child-like and joyful, to revel with complete abandon in the glory of living in a beautiful, messy natural world.

I don't know if other Pagan writers experience this odd whine of feedback ringing in their ears, when one desire comes too close to another, one value rubs up against another.... There are times when I want to fill this blog with that single, concise directive, over and over: Go play outside! You lovely people, for gods' sake, go play outside! Step away from the computer screen, get up from your desk, open a window, unlock the door, step into the beautiful world and breathe deep. But on the other hand: read my stuff! Stay here, listen, let us sit and think quietly and seriously for a while, let us exchange stories and experiences, see what we can learn from one another.

Of course, I want you to read what I write. I want us to communicate, to converse, to share and explore and ruminate together. I love the outdoors, the shorelines and the horizons and the twilights where I can slip into the liminal wildness of nature. But I also love to write. I could spend hours in front of a computer, tweaking and revising and chewing on my lip, working to say what I really want to say. I love the gritty feeling of satisfaction when I manage to write something interesting, substantive, maybe even poetic or inspiring. It's like the grit of dirt that reminds you these vegetables come from your own modest garden. So of course I want you to read what I write. It's a gift, it's why I write, so that I can give what I have written away to whoever is willing to receive. But then.... o, but then. If you're in here reading blog posts instead of going outside to play....

Hear it?! Hear that whine? The harsh ringing of a microphone too close to the speaker....

This week I had the honor, and pleasure, of being a guest writer over at Druid Journal. My post, "Pagan Values: Ecology, Environmentalism & Practical Pacifism", took many hours of struggle, writing and revising, thinking and rethinking, but through that process I discovered and explored some exciting ideas about the nature of creative nonviolence and its parallel in the environmentalist movement. I'll be expanding on some of those thoughts in this blog over the next few weeks, but in the meantime I would love for you to hop on over to check out this first enthusiastic plunge into the subject.

I know, I know, there are so many interesting things to read right now, especially on the subject of Pagan values, virtues and ethics. How can I bring myself to ask you to read yet another article online, when green fields and blue skies and warm summer rains are just waiting to be enjoyed? But I promise, I'll do my best to make my posts worth reading, I'll cram in as much thoughtfulness and controversy and clever turns-of-phrase as I can; if you promise that, once in a while, you'll take a break to just step outside, stretch your arms wide towards the sun and give a great big bear-hug to your favorite tree. Do we have a deal?


  1. I've always said that those who embrace the child within have no problems being part of Paganism.

    This is beautiful post, and great picture too!

  2. I always feel my inner child leaping when I get outside, Ali. Thanks for the reminder to play, and for a fetching picture as well!