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Boundless Spirituality

Three years ago I started a new ministry position and found myself completely overwhelmed, unhappy and honestly, depressed. My prayer was to find passion for serving and allow my cup to overflow. I realized I was missing a big piece of my spiritual puzzle. Trying to pull myself out of my mess, I became greedy with the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Mass. I needed to be confident in my daily journey with Christ and see Him in all things, especially in the stillness of creation.

Growing up my birthday landed smack dab in the middle of July. Living in Arizona even the pools were too hot to celebrate, so I opted to go to the mountains with my family for my birthday celebration. As I got older, baseball, work, school, then ministry took over, and I stopped making time for the fresh air and clear night skies that once filled me. I had enough of the concrete hustle and bustle and took a weekend to go to the mountains.

All throughout scripture we see parables given from mountaintops and psalms depicting the rolling hills. In God’s creation, we connect to peace, unlike anything we can create. It’s in this majestic beauty where we return to our raw self that brings a joy unparalleled to things this “world” has to offer. Unplugging and getting outside isn’t for everyone. However, fresh air and a little quiet time is something we all need. During his Pontificate, St. Pope John Paul II would leave the Vatican and go into the mountains. If he wasn’t too busy to get outside for a little fresh air then what is our excuse?

Here are four easy things to try this summer to bring you deeper into the creation around you and give you a little time to refocus!

Go camping

Craigslist, Amazon, Ebay and local garage sales offer a variety of “youth ministry salary” camping materials. In reality, you can take camping as serious or as simple as you want. Almost ever state has National Parks that offer campgrounds with showers and running water or where your closest toilet is over 50 miles away. Make of it what you want and remember just to get outside and enjoy the mountain air.

Take a hike

Get outside, go for a hike, or take a mountain trail! There is a bunch of online literature for every state that offers trail excursions. Get good shoes, bring plenty of water, and remember it’s supposed to be relaxing not an iron man competition.

Watch a sunrise

If going in the mountains isn’t enjoyable for you, watch a sunrise at least once a week. Get up early, grab a cup of coffee, and watch the sun come over the horizon. Sounds like a Hallmark card I know but as you head to bed that night ask yourself how your day was. I promise it will leave you with a smile on your face.

Picnic

Get some friends together or take your family to a park and have lunch or dinner together. Take a Frisbee, basketball, or as they do in Louisiana, some washers and enjoy the time you have with the community around you. Get active; don’t worry about the Life Night or Edge retreat coming up, just enjoy the moment.

These are just a couple opportunities for you to consider. We need a break; we can only give to those around us from the excess we have received. Stay greedy with the Sacraments and take a little time to get outside. Share your journey with #getoutsideLT and inspire those around you.

About the Author

Jake Etcheverria

Jake Etcheverria is the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Mesa, AZ. Seven years of full time ministry brought him to south Louisiana for three years where a Cajun culture forever changed the kid from the desert. Now back in Arizona, Jake enjoys all things outdoors and at any moment can tell you how many days there are left until hunting season starts. He is an avid cook with a Cajun flair to just about everything. You can often find Jake up in the mountains camping with his wife Eden and their two golden retrievers Buck and Jolie. Yes, he did name his dog Buck, that happened!