After two weeks of vacation, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into work and the normal rhythm of life. Give me a week, and I’m sure I’ll be ready for vacation again, but for now I’m going to enjoy the feeling!
- Two weeks of vacation is a great invention. We started this several years ago by necessity because the arrangement we have with our landlords is that they come to use the house for two weeks every summer. Now that we’ve gotten used to taking two weeks in a row, I’m not sure we would ever go back to taking a single week. By the time we finished that second week, I really did feel like I had gotten rested and restored.
- A week without WiFi and cell phone service was surprisingly wonderful. Sure the first day I was a little twitchy, but by the end of our week in West Virginia, I was almost dreading going back into the world of full contact and interaction with social media, phones and texts. In our hyper-connected world, a retreat like that can be a pretty rare gift. I’m actually considering unplugging on a more regular basis now that I know what it feels like.
- Good literature moves me. While on vacation I read two books – the first was nonfiction (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain) and the second fiction (The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck). The first book was remarkably reassuring for an introvert like me who has to often function as an extrovert in my work as a pastor. It reminded me that what I sometimes think is a weakness for me can actually be a great strength in both relationships and in leadership. I’ve read The Grapes of Wrath before, but was drawn back to it as I browsed my shelf for reading material before we left for vacation. Steinbeck’s ability to paint rich characters on the canvas of American history is quite a gift. If you haven’t read it, ou should. But be warned, the last couple chapters might haunt you for days.
- The world is a beautiful place. One week in Vermont, another in West Virginia and in both places we were captivated by simple beauty in some amazing places. We hiked twice in a state park in Vermont that rewarded us one day with a spectacular view from a mountaintop and a second day with a beautiful waterfall that was tucked way off the beaten path. The mountains of West Virginia are different than those in Vermont – closer together and rising in steeper inclines it seems to me – but they are beautiful as well. We spent a week on top of a ridge and every day I was reminded of the simple pleasure of waking up and breathing in clear mountain air with a view of the valley below.
- I have a great family and we have great friends. Sure, my family isn’t perfect. We had arguments. We had issues. But I was also reminded that we have each other, and that God has been generous to me in the gifts of my wife and kids. There aren’t four other people on the planet I’d rather have spent this time with than them. We also have some great friends. From the ones we spent a week with in Vermont to the others we saw inWest Virginia and Baltimore, we count it a great joy to know so many good, loving, generous people.
- I missed my church. Because we were traveling both Sundays of our trip, we didn’t even get to visit a church these last couple weekends. It was weird to be away from church in general, and really weird to be away from New Life. The joy I find each Sunday in the community here really sustains my soul. I am really looking forward to jumping back into the swing of things this Sunday with my church family!
- I love food. Unfortunately, food also loves me. It lovesme so much that it seemed to follow me around for two weeks, and some of it has taken up residence around my waist, making my pants magically tighter than they were before we left. Biscuits and gravy, meatballs and mac nd cheese, burgers, death by cookie dough, clam cakes and chowder – you name it, I ate it. Which means that today is what’s known as a “I’m not eating anything because I think I’m still full from a week ago” kind of day.