I really enjoy social media during the summer months – seeing friends post pictures of their travels and adventures. In the 21st century, planes, trains and automobiles have made it so easy for us to explore all of the wonderful, varied places in our country and abroad. In some ways, it seems as though many Americans (myself included) feel somewhat deprived if they are unable to take a summer vacation. Perhaps it’s because our lives are so stressful and busy that we long for time away from our hectic schedules.
In scripture, Jesus teaches us that taking time to rest, to pray and to recharge is not optional but essential. In the gospels, there are several references to Jesus going off alone. Here are a couple of them: “When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” (Matthew 14: 13) Then he made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd and when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.” (Mark 6: 45-46) If Jesus is God and He needed “down-time,” how much more do we need it? You know the old saying, “You cannot give what you don’t have?” In order to be Christ’s light to the world, we have to be filled. Vacation can do this for us if approached from this perspective.
When planning a vacation, make sure that it begins with prayer. Have you ever thought about praying about where God might like you to go- what he might like to show you? Do you include him in the planning? Do you pray for safe travels before putting the car in reverse, or before your flight takes off? Do you research churches/shrines that are near your destination, and plan to visit them? Do you build in plenty of time to simply bask in the beauty of God’s creation – to soak it all in?
Perhaps, you may not be able to take a trip this year. You can still vacation, by taking some time in your own hometown to do all of those things I just mentioned! New Orleans is an amazing city with lots to enjoy – and plenty of beautiful Catholic churches to visit. No matter what you do this summer, be sure you take Jesus up on his invitation: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) Allow Jesus, King of the Universe, to be your tour guide!