It’s good to be home! I’ve missed you all, and I’m glad to be back at this intersection between life and God for anyone converted, unconverted or under conversion.
Ten serene days of vacation have inspired some reflections this morning on the difference that leaving one’s work, routine and home (for me, these are all muddled together) makes in changing perspective.
After a break, those little things that describe home, that when added together in the thickness of life can drive me to sighs, or complaints or escapes in day dreams, attain an endearing sweetness. They haven’t changed; they are still there. The mounds of unfolded laundry on our living room sofa, left hurriedly en route to the airport, tokens of my daily routine as a wife and mother. (“Yea, though I walk through the valley of underwear and socks, I will fear no evil.”) The lone tennis shoe lying on our front lawn- discarded remains of my daughter’s pre-school experiment in growing parsley, tragically cut short by our puppy Roosevelt’s implacable teething interests. Our “cozy” (in other words, cramped) kitchen, its drawers and cupboards stuffed to overflowing, often prompting expressions of annoyance varying in furor whenever we host a dinner party.
Everything is just as it was, just the way we left it; only now it seems different. A renewed fondness for the idiosyncracies and imperfections that make home “home” imbues the everything with a new meaning. The burden is lifted just a bit and in its place there is a lightness. Somehow this act of intentional distancing- of “vacating”- has only deepened my appreciation for the messy, barely manageable life that has come to be at our particular address on our particular street in our particular city.
I realize that not everyone can have this luxury of experience. To actually vacation, and then to vacation long enough for it to make a difference, are not things everyone can do- but I wish they could. Because there is something deeply edifying for the soul in being reminded that when we step away from our work and simply rest and play, the world does not stop. The traffic lights still work. The sun still rises and sets. The grass still grows and the birds keep chirping and the earth continues its rotation.
And this, I think, is the meaning and importance of the Sabbath; (if we can’t vacation, we can at least take a Sabbath break each week.) We are not so indispensable after all- or at least this is not why we exist. We are, more fundamentally, simply loved apart from what we do or don’t do. So maybe at heart vacationing is really a cultivation of humility, which is something that probably does not come naturally for most of us.