Later in the week I’ll be trucking off to Oregon with my wife’s side of our family for a vacation. In August, I’ll head to Maine to see my side of our family. These coming vacations afford me a chance to reflect on vacation and why it’s so magical.
Prepare yourself for some truly amazing insights on vacation. For example, vacation is pleasant because one does not work while on vacation. See, there you go. It takes me hours to think of this stuff (and hence the overwhelming need for one). In all seriousness, is there not exhilaration in vacation? The sheer joy of reading for pleasure is enough to make vacation worthwhile in itself. As one who reads for school, and has done so for, well, almost my entire life, there is nothing quite like working through a really well-written book. Sun and cold drinks also do not hurt. Time with family is always full of meaning and quiet joy. In simply catching up, in returning to the old rhythms of life, one finds a few moments of solace. For a little while, we can enter fully into the roles which we still occupy but devote less time to now: son, brother, nephew, grandson, etc. For a few days, a week, two weeks, the balance of the past is restored, and we laugh, talk and explore as we once did, time granting us a brief exception to its laws.
Vacation allows us a taste of heaven. That may sound a bit grandiose, and perhaps it is, but how else am I to apply this MDiv education? No, in reality, it does. We get to feel for a short while what heaven will be like–a place of rest, joy, and comfort, a place where deadlines do not exist and where our love for Christ will be made whole. Don’t you often find that vacations are spiritually refreshing? I certainly do. I can’t help it. Put me on a beach, give me some time to pray and think, and I can’t help but worship God in a way I find evasive during the hustle of normal living. Those moments–some of the best moments of my life–are an appetizer for heaven, where contemplation and worship of God comprise the sum total of our existence. How kind of God to give us vacations to rest, relax, and practice for heaven.
Vacation invariably draws us back into our former days. It allows us to reminisce about vacations gone by in a way that is not doleful but celebratory. When I visit Maine, and sit in an ocean cottage, I know that memories will slowly drift through my mind, syncopated with the incoming tide. My sister and I pitching a wiffle ball to each other on a private beach in Maine. My father playing “beach golf” with us. Jumping off a raft at a cottage my mother’s father rented for several weeks. Eating an occasional Blizzard. Sitting in a ocean cottage, reminiscing about the past. Yes, I’ve done that for many years now, such that the past blends with the present, the present with the past, and the pleasantness of vacation lingers with me for just a little while longer.