Take A Vacation

We went camping this weekend. This was M’s first time in the woods over night. She did great.

We ate bacon:

CIMG4258 (1)

We jumped off stumps:


We tried hot chocolate for the first time:


We practiced the spiritual discipline of looking at a body of water while pondering the deeper truths of life:


At about 7 pm on Saturday evening, M was asleep, Amy and I were reading good books, all was peaceful in our campsite, and I was beginning to compose a post in my mind about the importance of sabbathing, of getting away, even just for a day, of decompressing. I was feeling it. Space, relaxation, the ability to breath deeply. All had been missing from recent weeks and months.

And then our neighbors came back. They were loud. They used “mother-effer” as a singular, jack-hammer adjective. They had extremely negative things to say about everything and everyone they had encountered during the day.

About an hour and a half later the fireworks started. This is not good writing as I lead into a description of an all-time-camping-neighbors-go-crazy-on-each-other-epic-throwdown fight. This was the 4th of July weekend and there were literal fireworks going off for over an hour. It sounded like war.

M slept through it. Her parents not so much.

And then the snoring. Snoring that could raise the dead. I have never heard anything like this before in my life.

M slept through it. Her parents not so much.

Sunday morning was glorious even though it started at about 5:30 am or whenever the sun rose. I guess this was our revenge. M fell off the table bench and started screaming. We were cooking bacon at 6:30 am. You’re welcome, everyone else in camp!

Sabbath’s are great (although, more difficult with small children), and I am all for them. In fact, I would guess somewhere around twenty percent of the posts on this blog have to do with rest.

But sometimes, you need a vacation.

I enjoyed our quick getaway. I regret that we don’t do this more often. But even twenty-four hours leaves a lot at the mercy of neighbors and weather (we lost one day of this trip to a tropical storm because Boston’s the weirdest) and fireworks.

Make sure you take a vacation.

Landon Donovan, The Sabbath, and Weakness

The US Mens National Soccer Team won the Gold Cup on Sunday. While this is a great feat, it’s no world cup victory, and the tournament is usually made up of b-list rosters and guys trying to prove their worth on the national scene.

That said, it is a good sign for the US team as they continue to steam roll their way towards the 2014 World Cup (their 11 straight wins a record).

The most interesting thing to come out of the Gold Cup is the resurgence of Landon Donovan. This article does a fantastic job dissecting the ambivalence American’s feel towards Donovan.

The story, essentially, is that Donovan, who had played soccer professionally since age 17, turned 30 and needed a break.

So he took a sabbatical.

That’s actually the word he used to describe his time off. This word is related to the word “sabbath.” Holy rest.

He got slammed for it. He got slammed by the fans, he got slammed by other soccer players, and he got slammed by Jurgen Klinsmann the US coach.

American’s don’t do well with weakness. We don’t want our president to take a vacation, and we certainly don’t want our pampered, over-paid athletic heroes to need a break.

We don’t allow people to be human.

To take a break, to respect the sabbath, to have a sabbatical is seen as a sign of weakness.

[my favorite part is that hardly anyone will tell you this your face. they will instead say helpful things like: “my old pastor/youth pastor/campus minister was always there for me…i could show up on their doorstop any time of the day or night and they’d stop whatever they were doing and help me.” love that one!]

The problem is that we need these breaks, these spaces, to recover our sense of self, to remember that we are humans, not machines, and to say no to a culture that is permanently in overdrive. And it is from this rest that we actually have something to offer the world.

Donovan played some of his best soccer of his life in the Gold Cup. He seems to have rediscovered his passion for the game. And he is back in the good graces of coach Klinsmann after his impressive showing.

The story is interesting to me because Donovan has tapped into a deep truth of the universe: we need to rest…God, the creator of all things, rests and invites us into that rest. And he got slammed for it. He was labeled “weak”.

It’s ok to take a break.  It’s ok to remind yourself you are a human being.


Amy and I enjoyed our first, true three-day weekend in a long, long time. Actually, we can’t remember having such a relaxing weekend, which is pretty bad. Because of our schedules, this past semester we had an afternoon off here, and a couple of hours there. We were bad.

One of the definitions of decompress is: “ To bring (a person exposed to conditions of increased pressure) gradually back to normal atmospheric pressure.” Yes, that is exactly what this weekend felt like.

Here are some of the synonyms for compress: squeeze, crush, press, crowd, squash, constrict, shorten, abbreviate. Unfortunately, those are all words that I can relate to. This last semester did something to me that feels a lot like being squeezed, and I will not let it happen again.

So, for us, this three-day weekend was a gift. A time to recalibrate back to normal atmospheric pressure. We hung out with close friends, slept in, made breakfast, read books, worked on some fun projects, went on walks, exercised, and watched baseball. My soul feels bigger than its felt in a long while. And for this I am very grateful.