Tag Archives: happy place

my happy place, part 2

Ok, so in my first post about the beach I got all theological and reflective.  It’s nice that on vacation I actually have a little time and “head space” to do that.  But I didn’t go on some beach retreat.  I was with my FAMILY – and that my friends is a blessing and a curse!  Sorry to use theological terms again, but if the shoe fits…

This vacation was a little different from past ones.  Money was really tight this year and we really hadn’t planned on going anywhere – maybe a few little day trips to keep us from losing our minds, but nothing expensive.  I shared this with some friends and one of them who owns a small condo very close to a beach area (and only lives there part-time, the other part is spent on the opposite coast) said, “I’m not going to be at the condo at the end of August.  Why don’t you guys use my place?”  My jaw dropped.  That was a hugely GENEROUS offer –  I gave her plenty of time to think about the FIVE of us invading her space when she wasn’t around – but she stood by it.

It was tight – her condo is ONE bedroom.  Hub and I used the bedroom while the two younger kids slept on her sofa-bed.  There was an alcove in the entryway with enough room to put an air mattress for our teen – the only thing missing was a door for ultimate privacy.  And boy did she miss having a door!  But free is free, so we had to make the most of what we were given.  But teenager was definitely NOT happy – not happy about her lack of total privacy, not happy about the slow wifi, not happy about being separated from her friends, not happy about having to spend a whole week with US, her weird and so-uncool family, plus she’s decided that she doesn’t like the beach anymore (who is this person and what has she done with my girl?).  Her attitude was really annoying.

There was an ever-so-slight shift in her behavior when I dragged her with me to tour a local lighthouse while her siblings and father stayed behind.  She enjoyed the view, but especially reading about the history of the place and seeing some artifacts raised from a shipwreck.  She enjoys experiencing history, but most of all anything that might have “paranormal vibes,” so the artifacts were really cool for her.  For the same reasons she also enjoyed a tour we took of an old military base used from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s.  Although she was disappointed she didn’t pick up any “vibes” there at least we got her to leave the condo and get her nose out of her phone!  Problem though was that the younger two HATED this trek.  They complained almost the whole time – too much walking, who cares about where the old guns were fired to test the munitions, who cares about the dark tunnels where the guns were stored underground, who cares about the ruins of the old barracks – – where’s the beach?

There was NO time during the week when everyone was happy.

The younger kids wanted to go to a restaurant every night, teen wanted take-out.  Younger kids wanted the beach, teen wanted to stay home (luckily at 15yrs, we could leave her back at the condo so she could have some private time).  Teen wanted to sleep in, younger kids got up early (remember teen had no door to block out noise).  You get the idea…

And my husband?  Well, he slept a lot.  It’s what he does on vacations, which is not always helpful.  And he is even more lost than I am about how to live with a moody hormonal teenage daughter.  I’ve only got a little edge on him there because I WAS one at one point, a long time ago.  And I’m more of a morning person, not that I LIKE the morning, but that’s when I have my surge of energy.  My husband is more of an evening guy – so I always wanted a walk in the morning and he always wanted one at night.  But we’re grownups, so I went on a night walk once with him, and he went on a morning walk once with me – the other days we just irritated each other with our opposite body clocks.

So that was our vacation in a nutshell.  Yet even with all that, we were at the beach, which is my happy place, and I WAS happy – and grateful.  Grateful for a wonderfully generous friend, grateful for my relative good health (fibroids, high blood pressure and perimenopause are manageable), grateful for the health of my husband and children (autism sucks sometimes but at least it’s not cancer), grateful for the quiet sunrises I enjoyed while my family slept and the condo was quiet, grateful for the warm sand under my feet, the sun on my face and the giggles of my kids, even though they were never all giggling at the same time.

Oh, wait a minute, I take that back.  There was ONE time during the week when all of them were laughing EXCEPT me.  We were at Applebees (a family friendly restaurant chain) and they were all (hub included) acting like beasts, and I started glaring at them.  My husband snapped a picture they all thought was HILARIOUS.  They laughed about that dang picture all week.  I leave you with this:

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But this is MY favorite picture:

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my happy place

***I needed to blog about my vacation in two parts.  This first part is more a theological reflection (I’m a pastor, I can’t help it!).  The next part will be from a more “earthy” perspective!  Here’s part one…

For the past week or so I’ve been on vacation.  And for this time out from the regular routine I have been able to enjoy my ultimate happy place – the beach.  I grew up in the Northeast of the United States and have been vacationing at beaches as long as I can remember – mostly in Cape Cod and New Jersey.  But any beach is fine with me.

WHY is the beach my happy place?  Let me count the ways…

IMG_2646When I am sitting on the beach, looking out at the ocean, I’m overcome by the majesty of God.  We periodically read the creation accounts in worship, and that all fine and good, but a trip to the beach for me is like a field trip.  For example, “We’ve read about the Statue of Liberty in school, but now let’s go see it IN PERSON!”  Sure, God’s creation is all around us in our everyday lives, but the beach drives it home for me.  Right before my eyes is the awesomeness of creation for as far as my eyes can see.  Watching the sun rise over the ocean’s horizon is about as glorious as anything else I’ve ever experienced (besides giving birth to my three children).  And the ocean is so, well, VAST.

So, when I am sitting on the beach, looking out at the ocean, I’m overcome by how SMALL I am.  I’m struck by the enormity of the body of water before me.  I’m struck by the enormity of the horizon.  I’m struck at times by the power of the waves.  I’m struck by the ocean’s depth, and the whole other universe that exists under its surface.  What am I compared to all that?  Nothing that’s what.  I’m tiny, inconsequential, completely unimportant.  My life matters not much in the grand scheme of nature.

But, when I am sitting on the beach, looking out at the ocean, I’m overcome by God’s love for ME.  Because, while I really don’t matter in the grand scheme of nature, at the same time my well-being is of the UTMOST importance to God.  How utterly amazing is that?  Amid all this beauty, all this majesty, all this vastness, all this power, God chose to die for ME.  God loves creation – God said it was good.  But God loves you and me, these tiny specks of sinful nothingness, so much that God was willing to DIE to save us.  This is the truth that Christians live with every day, that Jesus was willing to sacrifice HIMself to save us from OURselves.

IMG_2434When I am sitting on the beach, looking out at the ocean,  I’m overcome by Law and GospelThe beach tells me I’m nothing and deserve nothing, but the beach also tells me that I’m everything and have received the very best.  It convicts me, shows me my earthly place, but it also reminds me of the greatness of my salvation, the enormity and the lengths to which Jesus will go in order to keep me in his arms of love.

Sure, there are plenty of superficial reasons why the beach is my happy place.  My husband loves the beach.  My children love the beach.  A trip to the beach is one vacation destination on which we can all agree.  That alone would be reason enough!  I also have wonderful memories of the beach through the years – as a child vacationing with cousins, dating my husband and getting to know his family, watching my children when they put their toes in the warm sand for the first time, first sand castles, helping them “jump” the waves, smiles and laughter.  Now that the children are getting older I can even close my eyes for a few seconds at a time to “take in” the sound and the rhythm of the waves.  Mind you, they’re still too young for me to take a nap or read a book, but those days will come back again one day.  Now that I think about it I could probably read a book, but for me book-reading leads to nap-taking, so better to leave the book back at the beach house…

In the end, the beach for me is a place for spiritual wonder and earthly joy.  It’s a place to realize and experience God’s creative greatness, my “not-so-greatness”, but yet God’s great love for me.  There’s no other place like it – not for me anyway.

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you can find part two, where I describe the more “earthy” aspects of my vacation here