Yes, a vacation. You see, we haven’t had a vacation in seven or eight years, and that was a long weekend. Vacation time was used one or two days at a time, mostly to take teens from our church to weekend retreat events. Hubby is, and I was until a short time ago, a sponsor for the teen group at church. This involves many hours of planning, organizing, and spending time with the teens and guiding them. This on top of his full-time plus work schedule means that he’s been maintaining a pace that was stressing him out. Suddenly there’s time to take a vacation, so by golly, let’s take a vacation.
So we applied for passports. What a freeing, liberating step! Suddenly, the entire world is open to us. We’re pushing 50 and had never had passports before. It feels very grown up…I know that’s an odd thing to say, but I am odd, so whatever.
Our passports arrived, several weeks later. In the meantime, we started researching. Vacation to where? Europe? Go to Scotland, see where my grandfather was born? Go to Spain? We could visit some of the sites in one of our favorite recent movies, The Way, about the pilgrims of the Camino del Santiago de Compostella. London, perhaps, or Oxford, where an ancestor of Martin’s, hundreds of years ago, funded the school and has a window in his honor.
We started checking books out of the library. Reading guidebooks about this or that place, but I never could concentrate and dig in to the planning of this trip. It felt wrong, somehow. Normally I’m the planner, the details person: I would ordinarily plan a trip like this to the fare-thee-well, deciding on places to stay and places to eat and things to see.
But I felt unfocused, uninterested even. This is supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, how can I be uninterested? It didn’t feel right. I realized I did not want to go somewhere, stand amongst a group of Americans, taking a picture of something I’d seen pictures of a thousand times, just to move on to the next thing to take a picture of. No offense to those who’ve done this, or who are will. It’s just not my thing. And a lot of the travel guides I was reading are structured this way. Go see this sight. Make sure not to miss this sight. I was looking for something else. I struggled with this for a couple of weeks.
Then in the travel book section of the library I found a book entitled, “The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life”.
This book changed my consciousness about the idea of a vacation. “So you mean, we can go somewhere that we’ve never been before, we can see new sights and have new experiences and get to help at the same time? I’m in!”
So we started researching. Do we want to save sea turtles? Teach English? Help build a school? We were really excited about this. Finally this idea felt right.
In the meantime, we were busy. We organized the teens from our church and painted a labyrinth, which for those of you who don’t know, is a winding path toward a center and is used in meditative walking practice. It looks like a maze, but has only one path and no dead-ends. Ours is of the Chartres design. The picture above is our labyrinth, just after it was painted.
Martin had been working on the measurements and design of this labyrinth for months, and the appointed time to measure it out, chalk the lines, and paint the design fell during this time. We got a few people together to help measure and chalk, and it was peaceful and sacred.
The labyrinth is a reminder to slow down, stay in touch with Source, breathe, all those things that I forget to do! We have walked the labyrinth many times in the intervening weeks, and it always helps. I have walked the labyrinth moved to tears, I have skipped the labyrinth in joy, I have walked the labyrinth feeling that my feet were not touching the ground.
I am so blessed.