I did a very unusual thing this past week- I took a real, cliche, rejuvinating vacation- on the beach. I flew down to Florida for a week with my aunt and uncle and literally spent a week in the sun with no plans. No Plans! No social plans, no schedule, nothing! If you had asked me why I was going or what inspired me- I couldn't even really articulate a good reason to myself much less out loud. It just seemed like the thing to do.
I am not very good at vacationing naturally. My fear of boredom and needing something to do took over the first part of my week (its kind of pathetic really). I quickly wrote down a list of 25 different things to accomplish- and diligently started tackling my 'fun' list.
Thank goodness the wind and the sun were persistant! The allure of the natural world became too much for me to resist- and eventually I put away my to do list and started to live in the present on my vacation. What do I mean by this? I followed impulse- if I was hungry I ate if I was tired I slept if I was hot I swam and if I was curious I read; and if I wanted to run around in circles and cartwheel on the beach I did that too! In the process I wrote letters and saved the lives of small crabs who had washed up on the beach. I swam in the ocean and spent time playing and giggling with my older cousin Jenny.
Although location made a difference on my trip- I realized how important it was for me to mentally allow myself to go on vacation- to let up on my usual patterns of thinking and allow for the world to filter in and just enjoy- without guilt or shame or need. How rarely I allow myself to do this! And in that shift- that mental quietness- God showed up. The good spiritual forces of the world were close at hand and were dancing around in the birds. And I was so oblivious the first couple of days to the important presence I was witness to.
For the rest of my trip I created three goals for myself:
1) To breathe deeply and clearly
2) To be present and follow healthy intuition
3) To center; with God myself and the world
And man, when I was doing these three things I was so happy! At night I would stand at the edge of the balcony in the warm wind looking at the stars and feel God close around me in the air and the heavens. During the day I would walk down the beach in the glistening sunshine and just smile at the beauty of the sunlight dancing on the thin films of water washing over the shore.
By the end of the vacation I can't say I was left with any grand revelation or new insight. I learned a lot every day through reading and conversation, but nothing that was earth shattering. I guess maybe my biggest accomplishment of the trip is that I didn't finish my list and am ok with it. I came back to the new year and my life at home with a new context, a new perspective highlighted in peace and a feeling that love is all around us in God and in others.