Saturday, August 2, 2008

Vacation Thoughts

Just back from the mountains. I am not ready for a full-fleged blog yet, but some thoughts are running around in my head that I want to share while they are fresh:

-- If you have not read any of Jan Karon's "Mitford" books, I recommend that you give them a shot. Thoroughly G-rated, they are simple stories about simple people in a simple place. Don't pick them up if you are looking for a potboiler, a war story, a murder mystery, or suspense in the typical sense of that word. But they are real stories about could-be-real people going through real events, and as the series progresses, the theology and the worship contained in the books are, at least for me, refreshing and worthwhile. For years, I have told my Sunday School classes that when I meet a Christian whom I had not previously known, the Holy Spirit in me reaches out to the Holy Spirit in that person. That is how I feel when I read Karon - I have never met her, but I know her soul.

-- Like the beach, the mountains are a view I need periodically to rest my restless spirit. I live in the flattest part of the country, and seeing the Smokies reminds me of God in a way I need periodically. It is not that I have forgotten Him, but I need to see mountains in the same way I need to recite the Lord's Prayer and sing "It Is Well" and read the 23rd Psalm. I know they are there, and I can close my eyes and picture them, but climbing up in them and experiencing them again is necessary for my spiritual well-being.

-- Watching my kids makes me know how much I missed in not having siblings of my own. I am not complaining, for my life was and is good, but I am so grateful that they have each other.

-- There is a profound freedom in visiting a strange church for worship. I mean "strange" only in the sense of "full of strangers," for the church I visited was very much home - I knew the hymns, heard conversations very much like many I have had myself, and knew the stories of many of the people although I could not match which story went with which person. Again, the Holy Spirit in me found Himself replicated in good folks around me whose names I will never know. But worshiping where literally nobody else in the room knows my name removes some natural distractions and allows God to speak in ways that I often do not otherwise hear.

-- It is good to be home. I think the best vacations are those that we are thrilled to take and happy to return from. My kids are glad to be home. So am I. I won't mind going back to work.

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