Coming to you this week from the boardwalk at Ocean City, Maryland……
It’s been an amazing week of perfect weather, beautiful beaches, hours and hours of tanning, topped off with delicious seafood in a variety of settings with two of the people I love most in this world. The Internet was down, off and on, over the past few days and that was frustrating for someone like me who likes to PRETEND that he’s not completely invested in and attached to the grid, but who is, in fact, COMPLETELY controlled by it! The fact that it’s back up and running today seems to be a message from God that it’s okay to send a mid-weekly now. So,here’s what I’m thinking these days:
When I was a kid, there was nothing more exciting for me than to learn that my parents were planning a road trip somewhere. We never took vacations because we had 6 kids and not much money, but to leave town for even a day to visit family or go to a state park were wonderful changes of pace. Later, when I had a family of my own, my sons would squeal with delight at the words, “ROAD TRIP!!” And whether it was loading the fishing gear to hit the river on that first day of May to try our luck with the rainbow trout, or just loading the towels and a cooler full of sandwiches and Kool-Aid to head to the beach, each and every one of those excursions was precious, fun, full of life and laughter. As I sat in the darkness last night, listening to the eternal crashing of the waves on the sand, a crazy good vintage of Moscato in hand, I was so grateful for each of those road trips.
Road trips are a break in the ordinary fabric of our lives, a chance to encounter our world and ourselves via adventure; they help us see things differently. We are never too old for road trips, and they can be just as fun and memorable as when we were kids. If you think about it, road trips are like taking a field trip from school–only now we need only our own permission to do it!
Being in a routine is necessary to psychological and spiritual wholeness; it’s essential to becoming all grown up. But the routines of life sometimes need to be broken up in favor of adventure and playfulness. And we are the ones who get to decide where we will go, how we will engage in the process, as well as how open we will allow ourselves to become to the unfolding of the new. And whether it’s a road trip back to the place we were born or a completely random destination, the critical truth is this: road trips are as much a state of mind as they are a change in the environment.
The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus taking road trips with his buds, and invariably these “time outs” were of short duration because the larger call of ministry intervened. But Jesus himself NEEDED time away from the crowds to regroup, to find wholeness and to clarify what it was he was supposed to be doing with his life. Like Jesus, we are all in need of road trips. We need to put aside our routines, our Internet connections (ahem!), and our phones so we can focus more clearly on ourselves. Old school Catholic theology was suspicious of anything done for oneself, as if taking care of one’s soul was somehow selfish and superfluous. We know better now. Everyone needs time to refocus, to giggle at silly things, to let the waves sweep us off our normally solid footing. We will find wholeness and maturity as we let go of our static image of ourselves and simply open our hearts to whatever it is God is itching to teach us–in other words, the beach is about a whole lot more than sunburn and sand fleas!
Wherever you decide to go and whatever you decide to do, going on a road trip will bring pleasure, excitement and insight. So, get those car keys, grab the VISA, and get outta here! I will want to hear all about what you learned and how God surprised you when you return.