1. an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.
2. the action of leaving something one previously occupied.
“This feels like vacation, doesn’t it?” she exhaled. She closed the van door, leaned back in her seat, and breathed in deeply again, closing her eyes in contented anticipation. “This is great. I’m so glad we are going to the Wet Zone today.”
I glanced in my rear view mirror at two growing boy bodies grinning from their swim trunks and muscle shirts. Rear view mirror indeed, I mused. As soon as I look at these children, it’s the past, and they are now completely new people indeed. Stop driving this minivan so fast, my heart pleads.
“Why don’t we enjoy things like this more often?” my daughter’s cheerful voice interrupts my melancholy, as usual, barrelling the sunshine into the murky corners of my mind. “We used to just jump in the van and do stuff. This is a great escape. Doesn’t it feel like a vacation? I love this, don’t you…”
Her voice bubbled on in high-pitched happy narrative while I fought back the would have, could have, should have mommy guilt. I used to be the fun mom, she’s right. Then work and pain and schedules and busyness got in the way. Again, I need to stop focusing so hard on the rear view mirror.
Instead, I followed my daughter’s lead for the impromptu Wednesday vacation. Hot sun, clear water, blue skies, bright towels, slick deck chair. It was a get away, three miles from home and worlds away from the ordinary afternoon of chores, studying, and practicing. An extraordinary staycation that cost me eight dollars.
“He hath made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
So this morning, I wasn’t surprised that after four hours of swimming on the hottest day of the year all the children slept late. But not me. I awoke bright-eyed an hour early. Slightly annoyed with myself, I crept outside with a mug of coffee and a library book to wait for the sun, then my sons, to rise.
It was too dark to read. The moon, split exactly in half, shone brightly in the direction of one small, faint ribbon of pink that promised sunlight soon. So I sat back in my plastic lounge chair and listened. If I closed my eyes, the inundating breezes through the large trees in the yards surrounding ours sounded like waves crashing on the shore. I inhaled deeply and imagined I was at the beach house in Galveston, then the warm shores of Pompano Beach, then Cape Cod. Family vacation memories more vivid than a shiny souvenir or faded t-shirt sparkled in my mind.
As the sun rose, I became increasingly comfortable with the sounds of here, right now — the chirping of the crickets, the squealing of the birds, the stirrings of the children searching for breakfast. This is the escape — the vacation of the soul, the satisfaction of our drudgery, the longing of our loved ones.
“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
God has given us the responsibilities we have now, and he has also given us the rest we need from it. How often do I miss it, failing to see the vacation he is giving me freely? An ordinary diversion, an ordinary day at the park, an ordinary mug of coffee, an ordinary supper, and ordinary sunrise can be an extraordinary vacation by God’s grace.