What? Vacation? Yes, you read the title correctly. Yes, I am aware that it is Lent. Yes, Lent and vacation do actually have something in common. I think they do at least.
A few weeks ago a dear friend of mine informed me that we were going away for a few days. “Why?” I asked. “Because we need to,” was her simple response. “Oh and don’t worry, I will be paying for it.” she added. I couldn’t really argue that. Within a few days we picked a date, Googled random places to stay, and that was that. Vacation here we come!!!! That is the normal response when you hear you are going on vacation, right? For most people, yes. Most people would jump for joy if this situation were handed to them. I on the other hand found myself with my stomach in knots. Thoughts of time away from work and my to-do list taunted me. More importantly, though I “knew” I needed to get away and I also “knew” that three days was not going to make a difference. Life would be pretty much exactly the same as I left it when I got back.
How often do we think that WE know what we need or what will help us?
So, I’m about 12 hours into “vacation” when I realize that all I’ve done on vacation is go through the motions of what you are “supposed” to do while on vacation. I laid around, watched tv, didn’t check my e-mail, turned my cell phone off, and continuously reminded myself that “I’m on vacation so the realities of life are not to be thought about.” I quickly reverted back into “see, I knew three days was not enough. Life can’t actually be avoided. It won’t just go away. I can’t pretend I’m not stressed and busy. Vacations are a joke. There is no point.” I was more than ready to just give up and go back to the survival mode I was on vacation to get away from and then it happened…melt. down. I couldn’t hold onto those things anymore. I couldn’t ignore them either. I let it out. I processed. I looked at the ugly things. He met me there. In that moment vacation actually began. Lent became reality.
He knew what I needed. He knows what WE need.
Lent is a gift. Christ knows us so well that He has given us 40 days (not counting Sundays if you ever get confused on that math as I have before) to re-focus, re-fuel, meet with Him, look at the tough stuff, see where He can take us deeper, purify us, refine us. Just like the laments of those in today’s readings we often feel as though we know the right thing to do or say but still find ourselves aching for more and crying out to be rescued. We think we know what we need. Just like I thought I knew vacation wouldn’t make a difference. He knows we need this Lenten time to reflect on who He is, and sometimes even remind us of who He is. He knows we think we know what to do and so He gives us this time to look deep within ourselves and ask Him to change our hearts once again. What I love the most about Lent is that He knows we need a little bit of re-focusing EVERY year so He built it right into our lives because He knows we most likely will struggle to take that time on our own.
Vacation is often viewed as time to avoid the realities of life. My vacation taught me otherwise. It is often the taking away of distractions that leads us even more to the truth of what (and more importantly WHO) we need. It is difficult to allow ourselves to just be and listen for His voice and allow Him to speak and move. It is a discipline. It leads us to the Cross. It brings life. That is what Lent is all about, isn’t it?
He knows what we need.
I pray that we will all be able to take these remaining days of Lent and commit to truly looking into our hearts, and allowing Him to show us where we need to be more united with Him. I think we will be surprised how refreshed we feel when Easter comes.
Enjoy your vacation…it will be worth it!