My husband and I went camping over the Memorial Day weekend, and it was the best start to summer I’ve had in quite awhile. We’re not expert campers, but we do camp in a tent. No cabin. No RV. Just a thin layer of tent fabric between us and the stars. We sleep on cots inside the tent. Most of our hard-core camper friends tell us the cots almost cancel out our “camper” status. So, I won’t even mention the mini refrigerator we bring along.
The refrigerator was the only thing “plugged in” for the entire trip, though. I didn’t even take my cell phone with me. I left it at home on the nightstand next to my side of the bed. I never missed it. Not once.
A cell phone can’t compete with bike rides that go on for hours under endless skies, with fields of grain stretched out for miles—rolling like the waves of the ocean, under the influence of a gentle breeze.
In the evening, I’d stand at the end of the trail and watch the sun splash paint across the canvas of an azure sky. Frogs sang a chorus in the tall grass as if they knew the rocks would take over if the frogs stopped to catch their breath. Lightning bugs (or maybe you call them fireflies?) sparkled in the trees, while spiders set up quilting circles on the tips of needles in boughs of cedar.
The crackle of dry wood on the fire called me back to sit beside the tent, my legs stretched out in front of me. I turned my face toward the indigo sky. The sky was all tricked out with diamonds as if someone had gotten their hands on one of those bedazzlers and thrown caution to the wind. My husband gently nudged the fire with a long stick, and embers glowed orange as one heart-shaped leaf refused to be consumed.
God feels big in places like these.
I don’t know why it takes such effort to get here, where time slows and work pauses and phones are silenced and to-do lists wait unchecked on the kitchen counter. Where we are re-created in the break from the routine. Maybe it’s the breaking that scares us off and makes us think we’ll be undone. But I believe the opposite is true. I believe the breaking is the very thing that pulls us back together in places of ourselves we didn’t even realize had fallen apart.
We are re-created.
I tend to resist it, this idea of vacation. Sometimes I put it in the back seat. I glare at it from my rear view mirror and ask it to just be seen and not heard because I’ve got work to do. But when I lie on my cot and unzip the window of our two-person tent to see the stars and smell the air, I know I’ve been confused for far too long. I wish I’d let vacation ride shotgun sooner.
I know camping may not be your cup of tea, not even with a cot and a mini refrigerator. But have you been glaring from your own rear view mirror at the idea of taking a break? Maybe you need a bit of encouragement to take a break from the routine and find time to recreate—to breathe a bit and just stand still while butterflies disco dance around your bicycle helmet, or waves knock you over, or rocks skip five times on a lake that shimmers like glass.
Last month, we invited you to share your thoughts and memories and dreams of vacation. You wrote about vacations past, vacations yet to come, and vacations on your bucket list (or better yet, your list of things to do if you want to keep on living). We’ve gathered up your words and spread them out right here at The High Calling, like a picnic blanket under an old, oak tree. Here’s a sneak peek:
Sheila Lagrand wrote about being unplugged, too. “Choosing to marginalize email, blogs, and Facebook for ten days dumped me right into the real life happening all around me. It affected all my senses, profoundly. It freed me to be with my family without a sense that Something Else was waiting on me, growing Bigger and Bigger the longer I neglected It. Life felt different. It carried a weight all its own, and a unique fragrance.”
Bob Gorinski shares stories about the vacation spot he visited each year as a boy and then a young man. Now, he takes his own young family to the same vacation spot. “I stand, watching my children playing with their cousins. I reflect on the past as I witness real-time joy unfolding all around me. I’m thankful for the chance to genuinely do the simple and fun horseplay that I’ve been after all along.”
In her seventh year of marriage, Shelly Miller found comfort in the vacation home of her husband’s family. “We’ve been married seven years and it’s my first trip to the family cottage in Ontario, Canada. A blue shuttered sprawl with her back to the Bonnechere Provincial Park. She faces lavender sky of golden sunsets on a lake of glass, tucked under pines. Her left arm paddles river of sunbathing turtles on limbs of drowned trees. Boats, oars, and life vests lay strewn across her sandy lap.”
Take some time to linger here. Stretch out for awhile under the leaves and take a break. Breathe the air and take a bit of time to re-create.