just got back from vacation. My mind is mellow; my muscles rested.
I think a moment during the
fourth day I attained the illusion of relaxation: 2:53 PM if I’m not
mistaken. It was right before we got a flat tire on a mountain road
where the oxygen was a tad thin for our Kansas City lungs and right
after we cleaned up our daughter’s ice cream cone that landed on the
floor of the car (“But I didn’t mean to!”).
I shouldn’t complain. Not
everyone has to—gets to—travel during their time off. Some people get
to—have to—stay home and watch reruns of i>
and MASH while they clean a few drawers.
We are one lucky family. One
tired family. One family who could use a little less togetherness than
is experienced on a twelve-hour drive to and from the mountains of
The gloss of this particular
vacation lasted sixty-three minutes. I began questioning the sanity of
trading in our minivan when the first exit for Topeka rushed by. What
were we thinking? The minivan, although lacking the misbegotten
elegance of the car we now drove, had one very important vacation
element: space. One peek into the backseat revealed three kids pasted
shoulder to shoulder (or was that Carson’s hip against Emily’s
shoulder?) They were so close I could reach back and touch them. A
scary thought. And they, in turn, could reach into our space and hand
us all sorts of treasures: sticky candy wrappers, melted crayons, and
As we neared Manhattan (Kansas,
not New York), I wondered if the Don’t Do Drugs slogan needed revision.
A handful of barbiturates would have come in handy. As the scathing
words, “Mom, they’re touching me!” makes another dent in the
windshield, I took action.
Because our family rule is He
Who Drives Calls the Shots, I took the wheel and christened it nap
time. “Dad needs to sleep,” I said. And I need ten miles of
silence. It took five miles of grumbling for the kids to get
comfortable. I basked in the peace. Even the guttural snores of my
husband were music. Six miles. Seven . . . Laurel sneezed. Her elbow
bumped into Carson’s ear. Carson’s knee rammed into Emily’s cheek. All-Star
Wrestling looked like a prayer meeting compared to the
passengers in our car.
Music soothes the savage . . . I
put in a CD.
So began the battle of the
bands. Kenny Chesney versus Josh Groban. The Black Eyed Peas dueling it
out with Beyonce. And the winner is . . .
Silence was good.
We don’t let our kids use
headphones on trips. They get enough noise during the other fifty-one
weeks a year. During vacation week, they have to sit in a car and talk
and look out the window and think and . . . gasp! Maybe even listen to
God. “O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth”
I have a theory. How can we ever
hear what God is trying to tell us if we have noise pumped into our
ears and brains every second? And so—though it would be much easier to
let the kids retreat into their own CD/DVD/iPod-infested worlds, we let
silence have its way with us. “Be still before the LORD and wait
patiently for him . . .” (Ps. 37:7).
I’m still waiting for one of us
to yell “Eureka! I’ve got it!” and share some amazing revelation God
gave him or her during this time. But revelation or not, it’s the right
thing to do, and so . . . I do my best to set the scene for a little He
& Me time.
Thirteen hours later (have you
ever run out of gas in western Kansas?), we stagger into our Colorado
cabin. Who needs pajamas? Sheets? Forget it.
The next morning the oughtas set
in. We oughta go for a five mile hike. We oughta
see the Denver mint.
the pines. Listen to the
hummingbirds. Make s’mores in the fireplace.
Catch a cold. Get a bee sting.
Gain six pounds.
As the end of our vacation waves
its hand at us, the oughta-dos back home begin to nag. “Can work get
along without me?” changes to “By gum, they can get along without me!”
cell phones are going through withdrawal from being without service. We
go to a town and my husband calls the office. The line that lives
between his eyebrows deepens.
“Everything all right?” I ask.
“Fine, fine,” he says. “Let’s
make s’more s’mores.”
He puts on a good act, but I see
him checking his watch. I try to ignore his insinuation that reality
still exists six hundred miles to the east. I lay down with a book but
catch myself editing the author’s work as I read. Naughty, naughty.
In the final twenty-four hours
before we head home, we begin to panic. Forget the oughta-dos, forget
reality. We have only one more day to rest!
I head for the hammock, intent
on entering the relaxation zone that has been nipping at me all week. The
gentle sway of my cocoon; the cool breeze whispering through the aspen;
the chitter of a chipmunk climbing the logs of the cabin. I’m drifting,
drifting, almost there . ..
The sprinkle of an afternoon
No! I will not give up! I’m so
I pull the hammock around me. If
I squeeze my eyes shut maybe the shower will go away. I hear the drops
patter on the grass. Grass. Our yard back home. Has it rained there?
Did our sprinkler system work while we’ve been gone? And the
newspapers. Did the neighbor boy bring them in like we asked? They’ll
be a ton of mail to go through. I wonder if that proposal my agent sent
out was accepted. Maybe the ending was too bizarre. If only I had my
computer I could—
I sigh and head back to the
cabin. If only life would quit butting into my plans. But maybe
relaxing in bits and pieces is all I can hope for.
And maybe it’s enough. Every
moment belongs to the Lord, every moment—whether full of busyness or
leisure—is a gift. “There is a time for everything, and a season for
every activity under heaven . . .” (Eccl. 3:1).
A time to vacation, and a time
to get over it.
Rest and be thankful.