Summer months are here. Kids are out of school. Some of the pressures that fill our lives from September to May are not as heavy. We have the chance to steal away for vacation, even if it's for just a week-end.
I often think of all the vacations we went on as children…. They were great fun…for us kids. While I’m sure my parents enjoyed them also, they were still the parents even on vacation, still doing the driving, the disciplining, the listening, the teaching, the loving, the caring.... We did what we kids wanted to do, not what they would have preferred. (Parents are amazing that way!)
Advertisements for cruises and getaway packages tap into our desire to get away from it all and enjoy ourselves. We all know that while some vacations are true getaways (especially those vacations taken in our late teens and twenties), many of our vacations are overlaid with lots of…love, with being-for-one-another.
- When I wanted to visit the Daughters of St. Paul when I was fourteen years old, our whole family agreed to make their vacation around my plans to visit the sisters here in Boston.
- A friend of mine goes home on her vacation time in both the spring and the fall so she can take care of her ninety-year-old mother’s home and do the yardwork.
- Another person I knew spent her vacation at her mother’s side in a nursing home.
- I know a family that travels great distances to visit a daughter in a cloistered convent.
- Most of the time when my sister is on vacation, she’s still cooking for her family and is on hand to take care of any predicament that one of her boys might get himself into.
- Even an older couple, retired and somewhat less obligated to family and friends, still offers a moment by moment presence and courtesy to each other that is beautiful to behold.
Being-for-one-another is what it means to be a follower of Jesus and it is at the core of what it is to be a saint, because it is the way God lives and loves. In its own way being-for-one-another is rejuvenating. Here are three things to pack for a vacation, especially when you want to overlay it with lots of love:
1) Refocus your expectations. When I want something that really isn’t going to happen, I simply make myself frustrated and everyone around me miserable. What is, that is what is. God is at work there. There is something beautiful to experience there. Can you find it? Pack a copy of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want….”
2) Bring help to enjoy each moment. When we want something to be different than it is, we reject what is happening in the present, or who we are in the present, or who someone else is. Rejection hurts, but it also very stressful. The more stress, the less rest. Pack something you love to do: drawing, reading, journaling, photography. Take time on your vacation to actually do it and enjoy it. Get lost in it. Find delight in the present moment.
3) Take along some creative ideas for being there for the others you are with. On vacations we unwind, and, if you are like me, the fatigue I’ve been ignoring suddenly shows up. At those times I’m not so attentive to others. Pack a list of things you could do for someone you are with on your vacation (little things…after all, this is vacation), or buy/make something small that will delight another, or look at your vacation plans and come up with a couple things that would enhance one of the experiences that you’ve planned together.
Packing these three things will ensure that your vacations this summer will be life-giving times of rest and renewal.
What else would you pack?
Sr Kathryn James, FSP