August 14, 2010

Why a family vacation is not a sabbatical

This past week I was able to spend 8 glorious days at Lake Okoboji in a teeny tiny little house with my in-laws. 9 people shared the two bedrooms, one bathroom, and living space. We got some sun, we played in the water, we laughed and ate a ton of food.  And by the time we got back home, I was absolutely exhausted.

I had taken two books with me for the trip - a novel that I've been working on called Sophie's World (think Alice in Wonderland meets a history textbook on philosophy) and a book that a congregation member gave me called Tattoos on the Heart. Both seemed like good reads for a quiet morning or afternoon by the lakeside.

But you see, when you are vacationing with 9 (and at times 11) other people - there aren't quiet moments.  There isn't private space.  You bounce from preparing breakfast to eating to cleaning to packing lunch to the water and by the time you get

back, it's time to make food and eat and clean again.  And then you're tired. And then you can't sleep because there are 9 people in the house and some of them snore and one of them is a baby who needs to cry and eat in the middle of the night and some of the people get up really early to make coffee and others like to stay up later. It was a beautiful chaotic mess and I enjoyed almost every minute of it... but it was not restful.

As a pastor and as someone who likes to be around family, it is very hard to take some time away for me.  It is hard to find value in using my vacation time on myself.  I save it for holidays and weddings and celebrations and family get-aways.  And I really, desperately, need to take some time away for myself. My husband could probably come, too =)  But only if he lets me get up and read in the mornings.  Perhaps a good suggestion would be to take one of the four weeks that we are allowed each year for vacation and use it solely as spiritual retreat and renewal.  Just me in a cabin with some books and good restaurant nearby. Time to walk in nature and sleep in the sun and read and write and dream a little.

Some time set apart - some holy time. 

I had a wonderful time on my family vacation - but I realize now that I'm back that I probably had far too many expectations that it would be restful or rejuvenating.  It was nice to have a break from the day to day business of the church and to get away... but my spirit is still struggling to catch up with the whirlwind. 


  1. As usual, you couldn't be more right.

  2. Oh I loved Sophie's World! I need to read that again!

  3. Thanks for the plug! I appreciate it!