The essential nature of the field trip

“The lupines are at their most glorious best right now along the river trail,” my husband said to me after his run. His words changed my plans for the morning, especially once I realized I had not taken the river trail for at least five weeks because of shorter walks while my dog healed. She was ready for a longer walk, and I was ready for a field trip.

We rounded the first corner of the river trail, and this is what greeted us:


A real-life Impressionist painting?

She and I walked the trail together first, and I returned later with the camera. I didn’t want to wear her out with so much standing still while I took photos.

As I walked, I could feel myself inhale more deeply and let go with each exhale a little bit of the tension that had built up in me these last few hard weeks.


Among the sea of purple, I stopped to listen. The wind rustled—a gentle, unceasing caress—through the flowers. Bees and hummingbirds buzzed about, and water rushed by.

I realized I had underestimated the essential nature of the field trip, more healing and more necessary even in adulthood than in childhood.


Purple lupine and other blooms, growing wherever possible along the trail


I loved field trips during school when I was growing up. Whether to a museum, or a farm, or the nearby university, a field trip meant something different and new. My favorite final exam in high school involved a field trip to the art museum so we could choose pieces of art and sit in front of them as we wrote our essays about the artist, the piece, the time period, the art movement of the day.

Field trips take us out of the ordinary, mundane tasks of our daily existence. They refresh, invigorate and recharge us. They teach us to pause and examine beauty we might otherwise miss. I’m especially grateful for this unplanned one.


Poppies are blooming, too, and I love to see them standing out in the sea of purple flowers.

Have you been on a field trip lately? Is it time to get outside and discover what you’ve been missing this spring?

The colors of Christmas: purple

For many of you, Christmas may be over. Perhaps you’ve already packed away your decorations, and the tree is out on the street waiting for the garbage men to collect. But for others, Christmas won’t be over until January 6, the day of Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This traditional 12th day of Christmas is a celebration of the magi visiting Jesus in Bethlehem, and for cultures who celebrate it, decorations won’t come down until then.

So in honor of Epiphany, I hope you won’t mind one last post in the colors of Christmas series. This week’s color is purple, and I have my friend Anna to thank for inspiring me to add it to the colors of Christmas. Early in December, she and I met for lunch, and she told me about decorating her tree with purple ribbon, despite her family’s skepticism. When I told her about the blog series, she asked (somewhat hopefully) if purple would be one of the colors. “After all,” she reminded me, “purple is the color of Advent.” She’s right, you know.

In many churches, the color of Advent is purple. You’ll often see purple candles in Advent wreaths and purple cloth draping altars and pulpits during the season leading up to Christmas. It’s not even that unusual to find purple Christmas ornaments these days.

A purple-winged peacock sits on my Christmas tree.

A purple-winged peacock sits on my Christmas tree.

But why is purple so closely associated with the season of Christmas? For two reasons: purple represents penance and also represents royalty. Penance will come into more focus during the season of Lent that leads us into Easter, but Advent is also supposed to be a time when we repent of our sins as we focus on the coming of the Christ child, the king of kings.


Two of the three kings in my nativity set are clothed in purple. I especially love the crown of the one in the foreground, with alternating stripes of lavender and purple.

So in honor of Christ the king and the royalty whose visit we celebrate with Epiphany, let us embrace purple as a color of Christmas. And as Epiphany comes and leads us toward the season of Lent, may the color purple remind us of the reasons Christ calls us to repent of sins and continue to stay alert for His coming.

I’m going to leave you with another brain puzzler today, this time from a purple card from the set that came in my stocking for Christmas. There’s a message hidden in what appears to be a flower below. Can you find it?


You’ll find this fun card and others like it at

Once you think you have the answer, please post it in the comments below (don’t peek at the comments before you’ve given yourself a little time to figure out the message).

In last week’s post where I included a yellow card like this one, I promised a link to the very cool website where you can find these cards and more things to inspire and motivate you. Again, don’t peek until you’ve tried to figure out the message above, but here’s the site: Visit the site’s About page for a fun, inspirational poem to get your new year off to a great start.

I’ll leave you today by wishing you a happy New Year. I’m grateful to you, my readers, and I look forward to hearing what wonderful adventures God has planned for you in the year ahead.