How I Spent My Summer “Vacation”

I’m lousy at taking vacations. I can blame e-mail, my BlackBerry, or my personality. Or I can put a positive spin on it and talk about how passionate I am about my ministry. But the reality is that I’m not good at taking vacations and I know this is not a good quality. Our souls crave sabbath time and thus this has become a “growing edge” for me.

This summer has been especially tough for two reasons: 1. This being our first summer on the South Shore of Boston, all our friends and family wanted to come visit us. Which was a blast but we didn’t get away at all. 2. My new curate started August 1st and I didn’t want to pull the old “Welcome! See ya!” routine. This one falls under the “do unto others” category. The good news is once she’s priested in January it will make getting away much easier.

But I’m also convinced that I’m not alone in being a bad vacationer. I’ve read numerous articles this summer that speak of the inability of many Americans to truly take Sabbath time; articles that boldly proclaim the death of the American vacation. You may physically be at the Grand Canyon or on the Cape or wherever but unless you fully unplug, it’s not the true Sabbath that our souls so crave. On beaches and lakes and faraway cabins a cell phone rings, an i-Phone buzzes, a laptop beeps and a Sabbath is, once again, rudely interrupted. Some of this we bring on ourselves but the reality is that we – and our families – all need time to recharge and renew mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. When we don’t, we start to run on fumes; and that is an unsustainable way of being.

While technology doesn’t help, I think much of this attitude is rooted in hubris. In the grand scheme of things none of us are as important as we’d like to believe. Life goes on with or without our presence. And this all points to perhaps the greatest sin: playing God. It’s usually not conscious but when we seek to control every aspect of our lives we’re doing just that. Many of us struggle with taking vacation time because we believe that we are indispensable. And I’m as guilty as anyone.

I did take some time off for a few day trips with the boys after camp ended and Bryna was working. On one of these “Father/Son” outings, I took them down to Sandwich on the Cape. We went to the Glass Museum, ate ice cream, and played mini-golf. And wouldn’t you know it? Amid the windmills and water obstacles were signs with the verses of the 23rd Psalm. As someone said to me “Only you would stumble upon a Christian miniature-golf course.” And, yes, at the end of the course there was a big red cross. But around the 9th hole I read “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” A few holes later was the kicker: “He restores my soul.” Restoring the soul is ultimately what Sabbath time is all about.


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