I recently took a week of vacation. My in-laws rented a house in the small town of La Mission which is at the 65 kilometer marker between Rosarito and Ensenada, Baja Mexico. The house was big enough to house nine people – the Marshall’s, Christi’s parents, and our 25-year old daughter, Victoria, and her husband and almost-4-year-old son who were visiting from Miami. Situated on the beach, the living room had sliding glass walls that opened up to the entire expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
This past Sunday I was asked if it truly is a vacation if you travel with your family or is it the same stuff with a better view. In typical Anglican fashion, I answered, “Yes and no.” No in the sense that the Marshalls' sleeping quarters consisted of two queen size beds. This meant I got to share a bed with Sir-kicks-a-lot, our 6-year old, who decided to wake me up every morning just after dawn. And no, we still had food prep, cleaning, refereeing, entertaining and everything else that goes with parenting and grand-parenting. And also “no” because Mexico brings its own charms and pitfalls. We had to be vigilant with drinking water, there was no lifeguard at the beach, there is a language and culture barrier, and we frankly missed the ease of simply going to the store if we needed something.
But then there is a “yes” side to that question. Yes, it was a vacation. I got some down time. I spent a whole bunch of time with my family. Literally, I was side-by-side with Elijah for a majority of the 24 hours of each day – including 8 hours at night. Christi and I got an evening where we just listened to the surf as the sun set. I got to connect with my daughter and to grow closer to my son-in-law and grandson. And, I had the joy of watching my in-laws enjoy spending quality time with their grandchildren and great-grandchild.
A vacation highlight was Sunday morning. By the time others were awake, I already had my wetsuit on. I grabbed my boogie board and headed out into the surf. It felt like I had the entire ocean to myself. Because it was early and foggy, I didn’t need a hat, sunglasses or even sun screen. As I stepped onto the wet sand, I said aloud, “Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…” I recited Morning Prayer while getting used to the cold water. I was knee deep by the time I recited Psalm 95 and waist deep by the time I recalled the Gospel lesson. I said the confession (and offered my own absolution) by the time I was chest deep, and I said the Apostles Creed while riding a giant six-foot wave onto the beach. I sang a hymn while diving under waves waiting for the right one to ride. I said the Lord’s Prayer while riding one of the best waves in my life and said my prayers while lying in three inches of saltwater sprawled out on the beach. And then, while riding another monster wave, I prayed, “You have promised that when two or three are gathered together in his Name; or just me on this beach with you; God will be with us…” This was one of my most holy experiences of the year. At that moment, I tasted saltwater and toothpaste in my mouth. I thought that is what vacation tastes like – saltwater and toothpaste; thanks be to God!
Was it a vacation? Yes. In the years to come, I will cherish spending precious time with my wife and family, Morning Prayer on the beach and frankly, having to share a bed with Sir-kicks-a-lot. To me, that is what vacation is all about.