To Vacate The Premises

The act of leaving something one previously occupied. 

On the drive down, Mom and I were in the car together – Dad, husband and The Baby (AKA my 6′ tall, 17-year-old son) drove the Suburban, because we’re at the point in life where a simple week away is anything but. People came and went from all directions, at all times, and so cars were plentiful. The fact that Mom and I had 5 hours together was a gift, and it was revealing.

I always regretted not doing more real vacations with you and your brother when you were kids. Seems like all we did was go visit family. I wish we’d gone to more places.

This was a stunning revelation, and it’s stuck with me for these several days, because it’s so normal to me that vacation equals family reunion that I’ve never really given any other sort of time away a second thought. Oh, sure; we’ve had conversations about how we’d like to see the Grand Canyon, and I’d love to revisit the Dominican Republic some day. But when I think vacation, what comes to mind is exactly what we’ve had this week:

Joint efforts to cook dinner, with favorite recurring ‘beach recipes’, plenty of Crystal Light lemonade, and Grandma’s pancakes, whenever you can talk her into making them. 

Joint efforts for the clean up crew; the call to action is Whoever didn’t help with dinner, go clean up! – and they do. 

Sitting on the same beach for several decades and measuring time by how the babies that once squatted in the sand to dig a hole now lay on beach towels reading Jane Eyre on the final summer before they begin college. 

Becoming accustomed to the fact that two of the kids are adulting to the point of getting their own bedrooms instead of the communal bunk room, because they now have husbands. 

Somebody picks up a guitar and plays Take It Easy and Dad asks for some Merle and we sing and play and he cries. 

Long walks on the beach where we get to decompress and talk about how we really are and confess how inept we feel as parents and as followers of Jesus, and remind one another of how much good has happened.

There’s more; it’s every moment, every day, and I am reminded, again and again, of how necessary this time is for my soul. Lately, I seem to question everything; I feel less than successful in my life in so many areas, and tied to that feeling of insufficiency is this nagging suspicion that I don’t deserve a vacation. I haven’t earned this gift, this tremendous blessing of a spacious, air-conditioned house filled with family and seven full days of doing absolutely nothing. There is so much to be done, and the constant drumbeat of the brokenness inside of me still – still, after al these breakthroughs and discoveries and epiphanies and redemptive moments – lurks to say YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING.

With that mindset, it’s nearly impossible to vacate the premises.

But after almost five full days, I’m getting there. I’ve chewed up three books of fiction. I’ve dug into a new book that is restoring my soul. My morning prayer journaling / sketching has morphed from dark, angry, bound-up colors to something calming – blue and green and peace-filled.

I am very fond of looking up definitions of a word – I love words, words matter, I’m a words girl – and letting those new words behind the one word wrap themselves up in my thought patterns to help me define (see what I did there?) exactly what it is I’m contemplating. Vacation can be defined as follows:

The act of leaving something one previously occupied. 

There it is, right there. That equals 50 minutes in the therapist’s office.

I’m on vacation to leave the anxiety-ridden, overwhelmed, wrong-thinking, control-freaky, way-too-busy, self-doubting, insecure, fearful, overstimulated me behind.

So far, so good.



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