I’m on vacation and it’s giving me life. In general, I try to pay attention to the things that bring life and move in that direction. As I get older, I find it’s a kind of preventative maintenance that keeps my engine firing. It keeps stress from seeping into my body and hardening my arteries. Frederick Buechner talks about the concept of “listening to your life.” When you make a practice of listening to your life, it keeps you from burning out.
We’ve had a wonderful time so far. We got a catamaran and sailed on the windy sea. We motorbiked around the island. We hiked through the rain forest. We sat beside the pool. We watched the sun set (and argued about when it officially sets – I say it’s when the last part of the sun disappears on the horizon). And in between I’ve continued to write blogs and catch up with email. All of which brings me life.
I say this because vacation is going to look different for each of us. Karen and our friends are out sailing now, but I decided to stay back to read, write and think. While I enjoy activity, I need reflective time as well. And I’ve learned the art of taking mini-vacations, just a couple of hours here or there during my regular work week so I don’t need these large chunks of downtime. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.
Too many of us cut against the grain of how we were made and what our bodies and spirits need. We need quiet spaces to let our brain synapses stop firing so much. We need to eat a little less and talk a little less. Many of us need to work a little less. We need to consider fasting from a few more things to rediscover how precious they are. Yet we often let life blare away at us like a New York traffic jam. Rather than paying attention and changing our pace, we try to make slight modifications that don’t really do anything to cut the stress.
Most people tend to need more down time than I do. Most people tend to need more sleep than I do. Most people are going to do things differently than you do too. And still, with all of their peculiarities and without knowing much about you at all, they are going to tell you how to live your life. If you follow a certain set of procedures, you’ll be more productive, sin less, and love more. They are an echo of the magazines that headline the five easy steps to losing weight, improving your sex life, and enjoying your friends. And who knows if any of those steps are what might bring you life.
Maybe those magazine articles have some good ideas, but they are a poor substitute for really listening to your life and what it is telling you. The Holy Spirit is speaking to us in a hundred small ways all the time. Often that nagging feeling we’ve got about a situation is him beckoning us toward life and protecting us from things that bring us death. He loves us and wants to not just give us life, but give it to us in abundance. That doesn’t mean a life on easy street, but it does mean the freedom to breathe, cartwheel across the lawn, and tell stories late into the night. Life is broader and deeper than we realize.
As I was waking today, all this was going through my mind. And I thought, “You know, after making a blog of these thoughts, I’m going to stop blogging for a few days.” Which is precisely what I’m going to do.
Instead of worrying about you guys, I’m going to the fish market today. If our luck holds, we’ll find someone who’s caught a lobster. And if we can buy it for a good price, we’ll grill it outside at sunset – whenever that is.
So I’ll see you when this vacation is over. Until then, I’m moving in the direction of what gives me life. I suggest you do the same.