So far on this vacation journal, we’ve talked about a few key elements related to what it takes to make a good trip: fun, togetherness, experiences, and sights. (Those all overlap in one way or another, but there’s distinctions in my own mind.) Like a good recipe, you need these “ingredients” to make a tasty dish. Also like a recipe, they need to combine and interact with each other in certain ways for the end result to turn out well.
But to me, there’s nothing more important on a vacation then to take time away and reflect. As a family, we do this by having Family Gatherings every morning. For 1 hour+, after every breakfast, we did a Bible Study on what it means to be a family, and how God influences the family.
Of all the things that could benefit this family (that’s everyone, including myself) on this vacation, I can’t think of anything that has the potential like these Gatherings. Ideally, these Gatherings are to the heart & spirit what a workout is to the body. They build solid habits of the spirit, and orient the emotions towards the community and, ultimately, towards God.
At one point during a Gathering, Evie told me “I’m BORED” (she said it with a lot of emphasis). I can understand that she’s bored; I would expect her to be. But I believe boredom to be one of the best signs of building mental and spiritual stamina there is. Just as a muscle signals pain when it has been stretched, so do our ‘attention muscles’ signal pain by telling us that we are “bored”. But, also just like a muscle, if you expose yourself to that pain with enough regularity, you will become stronger, and you will be able to focus your attention on things for longer periods of time.
And of course, there is nothing more important to focus your attention on than the BIG THINGS. While Evie is bored, she is also noticing 20-30 people around her talking about Big Things, telling each other they love each other, and that they take their actions towards each other seriously. Evie notices that her Aunts, Uncles, Granparents, and cousins all have to confront the tough stuff of life, and wrestle with how to act well.
Finally, she notices that everyone has to confront God on his/her own. As we say a lot in our family, “God has no grand-children”. He has to be addressed on an individual level, and no person can do it for you. Evie has to figure out how she relates to God, and I can only pray for her as she does. But it helps that she is surrounded by such good examples, who live it out in front of her.