Editor’s Corner: Less screen time, more green time

By Amy Forbus I’m writing this column in the middle of deadline week, which is a necessary phase in every editor’s job. In some ways, this deadline week is no different from the same week in any month of the year, though it’s been particularly challenging the last couple of months. (To all those readers who shared condolences upon the death of my father: Thank you, and blessings to you all.) This month, though, the challenge has a different origin: I shortened my production schedule to take a vacation with “less screen time, more green time.” While I didn’t completely abandon my smartphone, I did go a week without checking Facebook, and I touched a laptop only one day out of the seven. Discovering I had no cell phone service prompted feelings of freedom rather than concern. My primary goal for the trip was to hike up Pikes Peak (elevation 14,110 feet). I’d spent the better part of two months hiking up and down Pinnacle Mountain any chance I could get—sometimes after running three miles or so beforehand. My adventure-seeking, fitness-focused husband encouraged me to test my limits and accomplish something big. And he knows me well: He made a July 9 reservation for overnight bunks and board at Barr Camp, halfway up the trail. Proof that he understands 1) I work most effectively when I have a firm deadline, and 2) I will go to great lengths to sample unique cuisine. The promise of “Pikes Peak Protein-Packed Power Pancakes” prepared by the camp’s caretakers sounded like an amazing breakfast opportunity. On July 9, we shouldered our packs and began a two-day hike to the summit of the most accessible “fourteener” in the U.S. We encountered young and old, male and female, human and canine, hikers and runners. Some planned to summit that same day; others already had; and still others were waiting, like us, for the morning’s lower odds of lightning strikes above the tree line. (And the higher odds of pancakes. Definitely the pancakes.) We summited around noon on July 10, in tandem with another group of hikers we’d met at camp. The five of us celebrated by belting out a verse of “America the Beautiful,” which Katharine Lee Bates wrote after taking in that same view. We saw some people using their phones to capture video of our performance… something I no longer had any desire to do. Unplugging and focusing on nature—its beauty, its power, its challenges—didn’t just result in more green time; it opened the way for more God time, as well. My phone may have multiple apps for Bible and devotional reading, but I’ve found that exploring Creation’s beauty brings me into a deeper connection to our Creator than whatever appears on that little glowing rectangle. To reach me, send an email message to aforbus@arumc.org.