Sometimes we need to simply step outside and look up

By Curtis K. Shelburne

I love where I live.

I know. It’s Muleshoe, not Malibu. It’s the high plains of Texas, not a resort on the Riviera. The Virgin Islands it’s not! But I love it. I don’t mean to be obnoxious about this. I’ll bet where you live is a good place to live, too, but . . .

It’s evening — kinda late — and I just stepped outside to let the dog out before she beds down. I also wanted to procrastinate just a bit longer regarding paying the bills, balancing a bank statement or a few, and cleaning off my desk, the clutter from which has metastasized to engulf one-third of our living room.

I stepped outside — and that’s when it hit me again. I really like it here!

We have seasons here. I like seasons. I like to have a reason to cut firewood. Life’s just better when a man has firewood stacked and ready. It’s even better if he cuts his own. He just feels like he’s provided for his family and is ready for a good hard winter. A guy has a need, by the way, to occasionally wear flannel and denim, work outside when he can see his own breath, hear the sound of a dangerous power tool (nothing better than a chain saw), get covered in sawdust and oil, and be so sore at the end of the day that he knows beyond all doubt he’s still alive because nobody who’s dead could hurt this bad.

I like to step outside, look up, and see stars, realizing that I’m looking at a clear autumn sky. And one day, when I’m sure my municipal judge wife is sound asleep, I’m going to step outside onto the porch, take aim, and shoot out the streetlight across from my front yard, and the sky will be even clearer.

I like to be able to draw in a deep breath and feel the delicious crisp autumn-kissed air wake up my lungs and fill me, it seems, with new life or maybe just remind me that inhaling such crisp beauty is a precious gift from God, just like life itself.

As I look up and drink in great draughts of starlight and thank God for their beauty, I wonder what they look like from the “other side.” It’ll be neat to know, but they look pretty amazing already.

We so easily get all caught up in the earthbound. One more senseless form to fill out for one more bureaucracy. One more piece of pious piffle. One more meeting. One more mind-numbing bit of minutia that won’t matter one whit ten minutes after it’s checked off, much less stand the test of eternity.

I know. Some of it has to be done. I admit it: There is a point to some of the plodding, and thank the Lord for those who are willing to push through the tedium to find it and bless some folks because they did.

But there is also a time to just step outside in the cool of the evening, look up, breathe in, and thank God for what really matters and for the fact that the Creator is keeping this world spinning, and the stars twinkling, and the seasons changing while we’re doing really important stuff like filing tax forms, digging through bank statements, and wondering how many years we should hang on to business receipts.

Pardon me. I think I’ll step back outside for a minute.