This post was written by one of our RHRW retreat facilitators, Dr. Nate Lowe of Indiana Wesleyan University.
Doctor’s orders: No tech. No TV, video games, books, games, sports, school, or any other activity that might overstimulate the brain, especially soccer. This was a death sentence for my middle child who lives and breathes soccer. My son had just suffered his third major concussion playing soccer at school, and after 2-3 days at home recovering from the initial side-effects of his latest brain injury, we were both going a little crazy. Imagine trying to explain to an 11-year-old, very active boy, that he can do nothing but rest his brain, when the rest of him feels just fine.
We were moping around the house with this difficult news, when the question was posed, “Well, what can you do?”
We started making a list.
I was surprised to discover that most of the things on our list involved the outdoors, nature, water, and the woods. And these activities, we soon found out, lead to something else we don’t do enough of. Talking.
It started Saturday afternoon when Isaiah’s best friend stopped by for a visit. Normally, the boys quickly escape from view and connect on some electronic device or another. But since that was no longer an option, we decided to take the dog and drive to a state park nearby, just me and the boys. They talked to each other the whole way there, through a picnic supper, all through the woods and all the way home! I bet they talked more during these 5 hours than they had talked during the past 5 years. Really talked. Not just about whatever they were creating or destroying on a screen. It was amazing.
That night, we were able to go camping near our home. Camp Lutherhaven had kayaks! My son has never kayaked, so we started with that. He took to it like a duck to water. We kayaked until he thought his arms would fall off. Then we set up camp, built a fire, roasted hot dogs and s’mores. Then, before the sun went down, we went back out for one more lap around the lake. He didn’t get a headache once. They had been plaguing him throughout his recovery. And guess what? We talked the whole time. It was a gift from God.
We noticed in the days following our camping trip, my son’s brain began to heal. I know it had been healing all along, but I believe God’s healing work was enhanced by our time in the woods, on the lake and under the stars.
I love (now) that the doctor said no technology. At the time, I couldn’t imagine what we would do to fill this past week. Our brains, even if they aren’t injured, need some down time. Technology robs me of the awareness of the world all around me. It robs me of quality time with my own kids. Virtual conversations rob me of real conversations.
So, even though we don’t know exactly what the future holds, we have seen the benefits of our doctor’s orders. We rested. We enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation. We talked. And then we talked some more.