I asked my eye doc if she was going on vacation this summer. She said she couldn’t, but she’d live vicariously through her patients who could.
This got me to thinking about how, if we’re too sick to travel, or don’t have the time or money to go on a real vacation, we might fashion one of our own – right at home. More than a “stay-cation,” we could create an environment where we’re enjoying some of the benefits of beach, mountains, sun or sand, but not physically going through the rigors of travel, with all of its intended or unintended hassles.
Right now, for example, I’m playing a CD of Hawaiian music, enjoying the different sounds that evoke those beautiful islands far away. Sipping a fruity beverage can enhance this feeling, as can gentle movement to the music.
If island vacations aren’t your preference, what about mindful meditation that takes you to the slope of a lush mountainside, or the banks of a skippingly cheerful forest river? Or, the mental stimulation you can achieve by diving full-on into historic places, letting yourself mentally walk the road trodden by Christ, paint the chapel ceiling like Michaelangelo, or even take the adventuresome sea voyage of a Cousteau or Vikings from time long ago.
My doctor’s comment about living vicarious through her patients is another option – if you have friends who are going on vacation, invite them to give details, with images from pictures of vidoes, or their time away.
Above all, what we who are home-bound do not want to fall into is the envy trap; getting wrapped up in the, “Poor me, I can’t go anywhere or do anything this summer.”
I have always loved the Fourth of July. As a student of Early American History, I especially like revisiting the events surrounding the Declaration of Independence and framing of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the remarkable men and women who were able to set aside their differences long enough to come together to birth a brand new Nation. Amazing! And a lesson for us all, today.
Some would say that the 18th Century was so long ago, and times have changed so very much, that it doesn’t make sense to think anything about Early America would be relevant to us, now. However, that is completely wrong. True, technology, science, architecture, and other disciplines have advanced – but in many ways, they have advanced to what they are today because of the innovations developed by people like Benjamin Franklin “way back” in the 18th Century. Political Science and Economics have certainly churned out many more “theories” of societal and commercial organization since John Locke, Thomas Paine, and others penned their own. But even these can trace their roots back to “older times,” in some cases even farther back than the mid- to late-18th Century.
We might think that our present day accomplishments are amazing – but consider how, without the “modern” technology we now have, medical advances, and conveniences such as the Internet and automobiles, our Nation was settled, organized, and established! If our Founding Fathers and Mothers could do all that they did in their day without modern plumbing, air conditioning, hospitals, and refrigeration, well, perhaps our accomplishments need to be put in a little more humble perspective.
And as for the religious roots of this Nation, well, I cringe when I hear people say that America was not built on faith. True, there were different and sometimes conflicting varieties of believers (and superimposed upon the indigenous peoples’ practices, too, sometimes). But this entire Nation from the beginning, was steeped in faith, God, belief, and a sense of morality that I hope we do not lose. From Franklin to Jefferson to Lincoln, the “greats” of our country might have individually held different beliefs from any given organized religion. But they all believed in and nurtured relationships with God.
If we lose sight of our history, we risk becoming overly eogtistical. And when we take on that cloak of superiority, the feeling that we do not need God or anything else besides one another to tell us how things should be, we truly risk tripping over our own fallibility and flawed humanity and not truly advancing. But when we learn about how things were then, how people thought, behaved, lived, and what they believed, we see how important it is to connect through the centuries, not disconnect – and to keep faith. We can make our world better knowing the mistakes of the past – and also the incredible, inspiring successes that come from people striving to do good for a greater purpose.
Successes like this wonderful Nation – blessed, good, beautiful, and, yes, formed through faith.
A very happy Fourth of July to you!
Sometimes, when we’re very ill or our pain is overwhelming, we might get to the point where God seems to not exist actively in our lives. We might not be able to feel the comfort or peace we enjoy when God’s presence is palpable. We might even doubt that God is with us at all. Such times might be very scary, but they’re not unusual. Serious, ongoing illness can have a way of chipping at our resolve and exhausting us to the point of being depressed, or out of hope. But even if God seems far away, there are ways to know He is still with us, holding us, and giving us strength. One of those ways might seem counter-intuitive (but please bear with me) – it’s to imagine your life without God, and in doing so, discovering that God is not only present, He is acting active right with us!
God is the giver of life. We did not give ourselves life, God did. What’s more, as we live even now, God is ever-giving us life! We live – God is.
God is always available. Others might have walked away out of frustration at our ongoing health ups and downs. Maybe, even, some of our doctors have given up hope and said, “You don’t have to see me anymore.” But God does not close His heavenly office to us, nor does He ever walk away! Whenever we call upon Him – God is.
God is the worker of miracles. I’ve been so sick at times that doctors have used the “d” word (“death”). I’ve known others whose health conditions have no medical cure, yet they flourish, and still others who by all human accounts should not be able to go about their day as productively as they do – yet, they do! God gives us a faith that transcends human abilities – God is.
God is the rock. Life with chronic illness and pain is usually up and down, “good” and “bad,” unpredictable, and even sometimes very scary – a floor constantly shifting beneath our feet. Yet, God does not shift or change. God is our rock – God is.
Martyrs and missionaries make astounding sacrifices each day to bring the Gospel and God’s love to others. They commit themselves to monumental tasks, knowing that they are giving their lives over to serving and, sometimes, dying for others and the Lord. And when we look upon these heroic individuals and measure our own lives against their sacrifices, we might feel as if we are coming up severely short – not doing anywhere near enough as they do.
But, just as not everyone is called to be a priest, minister, doctor, or teacher, not everyone is called to leave home and travel far to engage in missionary work. Nor will every believer be called to die for his or her faith.
No, for some, heroic living that involves service, sacrifice, and sharing the Word means living at home, serving those close by, and reaching out, to paraphrase Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, in small ways with great love.
In short, it doesn’t take much to care. And, in fact, if we wait around for great things to do, we will be missing out on all the less visible ways we might be making a huge difference.
I applaud those who dedicate their lives to the Gospel, whether they leave behind all that is familiar to work “in the fields,” or remain close to their roots. Truly, where we live out God’s purpose is not as important as that we do live it out. Day by day. Person by person.