Posted tagged ‘vacation’

Recovering From Vacation

March 31, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                 March 31, 2019

                        

Vacations are tragically funny! We long for the excitement and happiness that the advertisements seem to convey and come back home exhausted in our search for them.

Let me say this up front! The best parts about vacations are either the deepening of relationships or the experience of being embraced by peace. 

When I reflect on journeys that are the most memorable I think of being with either family or friends. The destination was secondary in importance. Memories of conversations and humorous happenings rise to the top. For example, three years ago my wife, Carol, and I took a road trip from Colorado to southern Ohio. We went to a couple of Presidential Libraries (Eisenhower and Truman) on the trip east, which were interesting, but what we’ll remember is surprising our nephew, Eric, on Sunday morning when we showed up in worship at the church he pastors In Bethalto, Illinois, and then surprising my brother at the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery outside of Frankfort, Kentucky where he is a tour guide, and then being in Proctorville, Ohio for my dad’s 88th birthday celebration. Those are the moments that stand out. 

And peace! Like the sound of ocean waves as a person stands on the shore is the embracing of peace that some vacations offer. It’s the feel of a gentle breeze touching your soul, an absence of noise and clutter that allows the person to hear the whisperings of God and the beauty of silence. In our culture quiet moments are under appreciated and yet vitally important!

We returned from our most recent vacation late last night. We went to The Magic Kingdom where peace and rest are like alien creatures. Once again, the best part involved the deepening of relationships- going with our oldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids. The magical moments were connected to them: seeing the grandkids playing in the pool with a couple of children from Brazil and listening to how they connected across Portuguese and English language barriers, watching the personalities of the grandkids emerge in their distinctive differences, and taking long walks around the Orange County Convention Center with Carol.

The frustration of air travel, the crowds of people, the price gouging of $25 just to park at Disney, and the spike in Disney food prices were all dampers on the experience. I mean…really, do I need to pay $6.00 for an ice cream bar shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head image, or $9.00 for a plain hot dog?

So why is the Magic Kingdom so popular, so overcrowded? Perhaps it’s because many of us think there is something offered there that our lives are lacking. Or perhaps it’s the other way around…our lives are lacking and we are hoping that a visit to a place that features a castle with stardust above it will fill that void.

The other interesting thing I noticed at Disney revolved around the number of people who had their faces buried in their cell phones as they waited in line or as they walked through the park. It’s as if we want to go on a magical journey, but can’t quite let go of the world we live in.

And so we arrived home last night- actually 12:30 in the morning- to recover from the crowds and the chaos and return to the “ho-humness” of our routines. We return from vacation to our vocations remembering…not the rides and attractions, but rather the conversations and chuckles.

The chuckles, however, will end when I received my next credit card statement! It will tell me we can’t afford another vacation for a long, long while, and there’s something, like I said in the first sentence, tragically funny about that!

Learning to Vacate

March 27, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W. March 27, 2014

 

This is vacation week. I love vacation…and yet vacation is hard for me at the same time. That’s because it is hard for me to mentally vacate. After all, that is the meaning of vacation…”to vacate.”

Even when I vacate I have a tendency to only physically vacate. It is very, very difficult for me to totally check out. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about this coming Sunday’s message. We return Friday and I preach on Sunday. I’m not the type of person who can throw it together on Saturday with no forethought. The scripture and ponderings concerning it have whispered their way through this week. I don’t really mind that. It is part of the calling.

At least that is how I can justify it. My personality and work style would probably come to the same conclusion if I was a teacher, a lawyer, or a barista. If I was working at Starbucks I would probably be thinking about something related to caffeine. This summer I’ll be taking a month-long study leave. My congregation’s Leadership Team and Diaconate members have told me “to vacate the premises.” They know that I will be too easily pulled into things if I’m around. A study leave is suppose to enable you to leave in order to study. I’ll write a blog post each day, read books that I’ve been staring at on my shelves for so long they have gathered dust, pray, ponder, rest, and, of course…drink coffee.

But for it to have meaning I must vacate. It is not optional. It is just part of it. Part of the experience for me will be “learning to vacate.” How can I “not be present?” Many people are good at that. They can turn it on and off like a light switch. I’m more like a fire pit. The fire may be out, but there is some smoldering that is going on for a long long time.

One of my other “issues” is the guilt of vacating. Will people think less of me as a pastor if I scurry off? Do others think I am taking a long vacation that will be filled with sandy beaches, sun screen, and baseball games? Pastors have this need to be needed. Will my self-worth take a dive if I vacate for a while? Whose bedside can I pray at if I’m not around? Will people be able to function without the pastor on site? I’m convincing myself, although I’m not entirely on board yet, that they will do just fine without me around…that others in our church can say a kind word and utter a soft prayer for strength just like the one who has been ordained.

As you can tell, this whole area of “vacating” is a little uncomfortable for me although I’m looking forward to it. To draw a rough comparison, I had been looking forward to swimming in the ocean on vacation. After arriving at our beachside residence I turned on the TV. The sound of the ocean waves was softly waltzing into our room from outside, but on the TV was a nature film about seals and whales. It was very interesting until the scene appeared of a seal splashing around in the water juist a few feet from shore and an orca suddenly rising from the waves and snatching him in his mouth. Suddenly the excitement of swimming in the ocean was tempered a little bit!

Some things in life are like that. We approach them with excitement, and yet we fear that some teeth may be closing in on us. Once again, it is evident that I’ve got a lot to learn about vacating.

Vacating

July 31, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   July 31, 2013

      Carol and I don’t often get away…at least far enough away. Not that I don’t enjoy being a pastor, or enjoy the people of my congregation. It’s really not their problem.

It’s me!

I am not good at unplugging. I find it very difficult to turn off the knob (old technology term) that is labeled “Thinking About What Needs To Be Done.”

It’s like the word association game. Hear a word and say the first word that comes to your mind. For me, however, it’s seeing an object and thinking about a meeting coming up, or a message to be preached. I smell popcorn and think about movies, which makes me think about the video series our small group will be using in the next month, which makes me think about the study guide questions I still need to repair.

Fruit reminds me of communion. Dinner rolls at a restaurant remind me of…communion. I drive along a river and it reminds me of the water restrictions we’re under back home, and whether the sprinklers are properly turned off. I pass a school and I think of the staff appreciation luncheon we do each year at Audubon School down the street from us on the teacher work day they have before the students come back.

See! I’m plugged! It is one thing that Carol is concerned about whenever I retire. Can I really unplug?

In our culture where we are almost always connected by technology (Except on Union Boulevard around Lexington about two miles from our house. Why is it I can get phone reception in Antarctica, but not right here in the midst of civilized technology?), everything seems either urgent or known. If it is known that means it is expected to be put on the fast track to solved. If it is urgent it needs to be accomplished…now!

I get into that mindset of accomplishing tasks, doing the weekly jobs again, and then when a day off comes I’m still checking emails and thinking about the week ahead.

Why is it that we find it hard to vacate? Okay, I’ll use that other word…”rest!” It may say something about our reluctance to slow down and listen. We’re not a very good listening culture. We listen to music…as we’re working. We listen to the radio…as we’re driving. We listen to our kids…as we’re working on our laptop. We listen to the problems of others…as we’re texting someone else about our own problems.

Listening is an undervalued asset. Slowing down is seen as not getting us anyplace.

Perhaps I will try to “vacate” each day this coming month…not for the day, but for a few moments, an evening walk, or just in a quiet place by myself.

It won’t be early in the morning. With a day of tasks ahead it would be a recipe for defeat. Early evening works best for who I am.

I’ll let you know how it goes. For today Carol and I are going to vacate to about five different places that we need to get to.

Uh-oh, that didn’t sound restful, did it?

The Rush To Vacate

May 22, 2009

Memorial Day weekend is a great weekend…to stay home!

The highways and byways will be packed with vans, trucks, trucks pulling boats or campers or ATV’s. It will be chaos and bedlam on asphalt. It’s a tradition, one that for many families is as customary as gathering around a tree on Christmas Day.

If you’ve been thinking about going to Sam’s Club…wait until Tuesday. If the thought suddenly occurs to you that “this weekend is pretty empty, why not go camping?,” spray yourself with bug repellant, start a fire in the fireplace, roast some indigestion-inducing hot dogs over it, and then enjoy the peace and quiet of your own living room.

I know that I sound anti-camping. I’m really not, but I admit that I do prefer sleeping in my own house rather than a tent with no heating or air conditioning system. Call me a wimp!

I’ve noticed that people spend a lot of time rushing to vacate. They leave town exhausted from the effort to leave. Camping isn’t the villain. It’s a mindset twitch that has infected our lifestyle. When I’m “here” I’m in a rush to get “there.”

But when I’m “there” I can’t enjoy it because I’m thinking of things that will happen next week when I’m back “here.”

We’re a culture addicted to rushing. Even at this moment I’m forcing myself to slow down and think through my words because I need to go visit someone. The sooner I can crank out the words the faster I can get to the next thing on the list.

By our actions and itineraries, “quantity of living” is more important than “quality of living,” but we press to get the quality with the quantity. In other words “we want everything and it better be good!”

I believe there is an intimate connection between “quality of living” and a slower pace. It’s tragic that most of the time when we hear the term “quality of life” it’s associated with someone in their last days who doesn’t have much life left to live.

It’s not coincidental that there was a quality to the psalms that David wrote, and he didn’t have deadlines. What he had was time to reflect, to be renewed, to see and hear with not only his eyes and ears, but also his heart. He was not in a rush.

Think about it this weekend whether you’re in an RV or your own bedroom. Think about your pace and ask yourself, are you conveying to your kids, friends, and neighbors that it’s a race or a walk?

Pastor Bill