In the computing world, when it seems all hope is lost, one simply hits the ctrl, alt, delete keys and the computer resets and all is back to normal. Sure, you might lose whatever you were just working on, but work can now continue. Vacation works the same way – they reset our lives.
I have just returned from a two week family vacation in Florida, I know, who goes to Florida in July? My family gathered in Cocoa Beach for a family reunion. We restarted this tradition a few years ago and now the family gathers every two years in a different place to meet and have some fun together. Mostly we sit around and share stories of the past, and, now that we are getting older, what trips to the various medical specialists we have made in the past two years. We share pictures of the past, we remember those who are no longer with us, and we rejoice at new members of the family. It was a wonderful time.
I have never really been one to take a vacation. Maybe it’s because I just cannot seem to sit still – I feel I always need to be doing something – but a vacation for me was going somewhere and doing some kind of ministry. This time was different. I spent several days just doing nothing; well, swimming in the pool at the hotel or in the ocean, sitting on a lounge chair reading, or taking a long nap. For me these were the ctrl, alt, delete buttons of my life and it was necessary for me to hit those keys and reset things.
In the past, when I have taken time off, I tried to find a place where there were things to do like visiting historical sites and what not. Those times are great and I did do some of that on this trip, but I also decided that I needed time to just do nothing, to rest, relax, and reset my life and my spirit so I could continue with my work. Not easy to do in these days of instant communication.
One of the interesting things I did, and it was not done intentionally, was to limit my time spent online and on the phone. My phone is an appendage; it is always with me, and I constantly check it. But on vacation I left my phone in my room, or if it was with me it was just sitting there. I also limited my time online to an hour in the morning to check up on Facebook and the various blogs that I read. I continued to post quotes and Scripture passages on social media, but most of those post automatically anyway. I found this very refreshing and necessary.
I am a big fan of social media and use it for ministry. I also use it to stay in touch with family and friends, but sometimes it can get out of control and needs to be reined in. There is far too much hate out there and I do not need that in my life, and yes, sometimes I participated in it, but that has to change and this vacation has taught me that. I will continue to use social media for ministry and communication but I am going to scale back my conversations that will divide people and cause harm as much as I can. I will continue to preach the truth regardless, but the tone needs to be modified.
Our lives have become very complex and our days are filled with work or carting the children from one activity to the next and our minds can become cluttered. Sometimes we do not have time to take time away, even if it is just a weekend, to reset all of those thoughts and give our minds, and our bodies, a chance to heal and to get some balance back in our lives. Spiritually speaking this is important as well.
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, Scripture records many times that He withdrew from those following Him so He could go somewhere alone and pray. Prior to the start of His ministry, He withdrew to the desert. He went on retreat if you will, for a time of prayer and reflection. Of course He was tempted by the Devil during this time, and I don’t recommend that! We all need that time of quiet thought and reflection in our lives and we need to take the time for rest.
If it has been a long time since your last vacation consider taking one, even if it is just a few days, to sit in your own back yard and do nothing. Read that book you have wanted to read, or just soak up some sun. It will transform your life.
This essay originally appeared in the The Quaboag Current and The Tantasqua Town Common