28 Jul Peaches, Beaches, Family & Friends
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the words “summer vacation”? Do you remember something from your childhood, perhaps a special place your family visited or trips to see grandparents, cousins and other relatives? Or, do you think of something more recent, perhaps a trip you’ve just taken or are about to take? For some people, the phrase immediately evokes the sights, sounds and smells of a beach, of unhurried walks on the sand, fishing off a pier, and watching the sunrise with a hot cup of joe in one hand. For other people, the perfect summer vacation is all about hustle and bustle—visiting a big city or an amusement park, for example.
Whether your ideal summer escape entails reconnecting with family, having enough “down time” to read an entire book, or engaging in an exciting new activity, summer vacation takes us out of our normal schedule. It breaks the pattern of our ordinary days in which work or running a home or caregiving dominates the rhythm and flow of the hours. And therein lies much of its power.
Summer vacation lets us rest, connect and get a new perspective. I don’t know about you, but I desperately need all of these things. Rest gives me the opportunity to slow down, to breathe more deeply, and to listen—to myself, to God and to others. Reducing the speed with which I race through life allows me to pay attention, to notice, and to express gratitude for the gifts that are right in front of me rather than taking them for granted.
Breaking up my daily routine also opens space to connect with people. When I’m on vacation, my focus is mainly on relationships, rather than tasks. But, even if I don’t leave town, I can create “mini-vacations” where I connect with friends and family. Sometimes that means going to a baseball game or grilling out on the deck. Or, because I have fewer meetings and scheduled activities in the summer, it means I’m freer to have a long chat on the phone or over lunch. Often the person I most need to connect with is myself. A long walk or gardening or going to a farm to buy fresh vegetables, as I did recently, ground me.
Finally, summer vacation affords me a change in perspective and a reminder of the fleeting nature of life. Fresh peaches and watermelons will be at their peak for only a few weeks, then they’ll be gone again until next year. Lazy days by the community pool won’t be here for long, so seize the day. Flip-flops and shorts will soon enough be replaced by snow boots and parkas, so let’s enjoy the warmth while we can. Seasons don’t last forever, and that’s a good reminder that most of our struggles don’t last forever, either. That issue that seems so pressing and so exhausting right now will eventually pass. We can take whatever responsible action is possible, but there is also a time to let go. Summer vacation, whether it is a physical one or a mental one, lets us step back and see things from a different point of view.
As I arrived home from work yesterday, a large butterfly was hovering over the pink zinnias on my front porch. It seemed reluctant to move, even as I began walking up the steps. Flapping its wings in the afternoon heat, it was a visible reminder of the gifts of summer, and it gave me an instantaneous “re-set” from the traffic I had just endured. Whether your vacation destination this summer is somewhere exotic or your own backyard, I encourage you to appreciate the graces of this special season.
Yours for the Kingdom,