A Vacation Learned

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Sunset from the Inn at Spanish Head

Like most people, I love the idea of a vacation. It’s a time to get away, do some out-of-the-ordinary things and to…relax. Just the thought of relaxing spurred the following thought:

 

We’re on vacation,

still safe away from home…so…

lower those shoulders!

 

Most of my life I’ve heard that I’m either wound a bit tight or just too intense. I honestly don’t see it, but even my doc told me I need to learn to relax. So this vacation I wanted to relax a bit. But how do you relax when there’s so much packing, unpacking, packing again; traveling; food stuff; and all those activities? Plus I wanted to have some stellar alone-times with God; just me, God and prayer. Then I could really hear his voice.

But I’ve learned a few things along the way and finally applied that learning this last two weeks.

 

Applied Learning

If I am so focused on the next task, then the current moment slips away. How many “slipped-away moments” need to occur before the vacation itself actually comes to an end? Also, if I’m expecting to hear from God only in special, contrived moments; it’s most likely that I’ll miss His voice altogether. How is this overcome?

Francis Schaffer states that “growth…like all things in our life, [is] a moment-by-moment process” (True Spirituality, 2001, p. 157). Overcoming the inability to relax boils down to the intentionality of living in the moment. Where’s God? In the moment. What matters most now? That which is in the moment.

For instance, hiking is more enjoyable when I am taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the moment. Plus I can better enjoy the physical effort of my body working hard to carry me to the next step, then the next, then the next. Rather than being solely focused on getting enough steps on my pedometer, or reaching a specific mile marker; the hike is more enjoyable when I stop to watch a honey bee working on a purple lupine. Or when I ask the fly fisher if he’s caught anything or simply feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays radiating on my chest. Before I know it my mind is relaxed, work worries have dissipated as the morning mist on the river and suddenly I sense the presence of the Holy Spirit. I’m in the moment and God is with me…in the moment. Jesus even lived in the moment and taught His followers not to worry but to trust God instead (see Matthew 6:25-34).

Then there’s the time around the campfire with Grandpa and Caleb. We’re all in the moment just chatting about whatever strikes our fancy. Or the moment right before we mash through a Class 4 rapid at Box Springs on the Deschutes River; we’re all looking at each other with smiles mixed with thrill and fear. We’re all thinking the same thing, “I’m not falling out!” Then there’s flying a kite on the sands of Lincoln City. The family is together, each taking turns flying our multi-colored kite.

What do these moments have in common? They are shared moments. We’re not all sitting

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The Three Sisters seen from the summit of Black Butte

around fretting about packing or about what’s for dinner; we are instead enjoying a campfire, or a white-water raft trip or family time at the beach. These are the moments that make a vacation. And these are the vacations that build memories, happy memories. Like climbing the summit of Black Butte with my ten-year-old and drinking in the spectacular view together. Or watching the humpback whales feeding just off the coast line while we’re having dinner. Or watching the sun setting in the Pacific Ocean, hoping to see the green flash. Or listening to Grandpa telling us stories from his past.

 

I’m Just Starting to Get It!

I’m still learning of course, but at least I’m finally beginning to understand how to “do” vacation. It all rests in the moment. And it’s funny, when I live more and more in the moment, I fret less over the future, I actually feel relaxed…and, yes…my shoulders do finally lower!