Heather got invited to go wilderness camping on Isle Royale this week, so I'm taking a bit of a vacation as well. Not going anywhere. Just relaxing a bit, cooking a little special, watching some movies that Heather's probably not interested in, and enjoying having the place all to myself.
I've generally been dissatisfied with vacationing. It seemed to me that if we really enjoyed and got deep satisfaction from our daily work and normal life, then vacations shouldn't be necessary. What I usually saw was people taking a much-needed break so that they didn't break—but then they had to go right back to the grind. Heather likes the idea of taking "sabbaths" of various kinds regularly. I guess I can't argue with that. But (here I go anyway) I see Jesus taking the God-given sabbath a step further. When he was caught "breaking" the sabbath Jesus, echoing passages like Isaiah 58, said that the kind of "work" he was doing was exactly what we are supposed to be doing on the sabbath. "It is lawful to do good on the sabbath." And that's what he did every day, sabbath or no. It seems to me that every day was sabbath-holy to Jesus, both in the rest from relentlessly "pursuing your own interests" and in the good, freely giving, deeply fulfilling work he did with all his time, every day. So that's what I've wanted to do too.
But I have to admit, it is nice to have a change of pace once in a while.
This morning I prayed down by the creek. I surprised some young deer on my way through the woods, sending them bounding in three different directions. A couple months ago, laying almost asleep on the big rock by the creek, I saw a doe wander right by me, not twenty feet away as it waded through the shallow water. It stopped a little further on and drank and cleaned itself for several minutes before climbing into the woods.
Today there were just the damselflies, careening after each other over the water. The creek is very shallow due to the months-long drought here. Where I was it's a little deeper, the flowing water digging down as it hits the huge rock and changes direction. A big school of minnows is apparently trapped there because the rest of the creek is so low, but from their size they seem to be thriving. When I moved above them they would scatter instinctively. It seemed like I could control the fish with a magical wave of my hand. I prayed:
And you, creatures of the sea, O bless the Lord.
And you, every bird in the sky, O bless the Lord.
And you, wild beasts and tame, O bless the Lord.
To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And in the gospel I came to a favorite passage, Luke 18.18-30.