Bishop Goff's Meditation for the Sixth Week of Easter: Summer Vacation?

“In returning and rest you shall be saved,
In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Isaiah 30:15

What about summer vacation this year? 

Among the many sacrifices we make for the sake of others and for our own health in this season of coronavirus are vacations and summer getaways. A trip to Greece that Tom and I began planning a year ago has been cancelled. Travel to visit my family in the New York City area is not practical. My continued cancer treatments, even though I am now cancer free, will keep us home anyway.  So how do those of us who are fortunate enough to have accrued vacation time use it?  How do we decompress if we can’t follow our usual vacation habits and patterns?

It is God’s will that we enjoy sabbath rest, time apart from daily striving and labor. It is God’s delight to give us downtime, and God especially delights in our taking it. So a faithful spiritual practice this summer will include creating ways to slow down, to enjoy the wonders of God’s creation and to celebrate the goodness of human relationships. Perhaps you might try one of these activities as a spiritual discipline:

  • Pull out and look at your slides, photo albums or videos from past vacations and enjoy reliving the highlights all over again. Give thanks to God for all you saw, did and learned and all you now remember.
  • Call someone who lives alone and invite them to tell you about their favorite vacation.
  • Choose a place you wish you could visit and read about it or watch a travelogue.
  • Visit a museum virtually, one that you visit frequently or one you might never get a chance to see.
  • Spend time on your porch or deck or in your yard and notice the life there - the plants and birds and insects. Engage all your senses - hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching - to connect with the life that is around you.
  • Do at home an activity that you usually do only on vacation - put together a jigsaw puzzle, play family board games, read a novel, cook out, take long walks.
  • Sleep outside on the porch or in the yard. Pay special attention to the night’s sounds.
  • Take up a new hobby or renew your delight in one you’ve not had time for in a while.
  • Give money to an organization that protects places you love, or to one that aids those who don’t have the resources to take a vacation.
  • Walk around your neighborhood and look at it through traveler’s eyes, as if you were seeing it for the first time.

The list of possibilities is endless.  Joy comes by looking beyond the loss, hurt and frustration to the wonders that are right at hand.  Vacation at home is not the same as going to a favorite place or visiting a new one, but it can offer just as many opportunities for rest, for adventure and for renewal.  It can offer true sabbath time of returning and rest, quietness and trust. 

Bon voyage.