Pastor’s Pen

“I lift my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from God who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

What’s the difference between vacation time and ordinary time? Last weekend I took the puppy down to Lobster Cove for a good beach run. As is so often the case, I chatted with other dog owners about our four legged family members, and exchanged the usual pleasantries regarding whether or not our pets might play together for a time. Invariably the conversation turns to their story: what brought them to Maine, how long they’ve vacationed here, and what they love about our corner of paradise.

Their eyes light up with envious exclamation. You live here! “Yes, it is indeed a joy to live here.” “You get to walk this beach anytime you want?” “Yes, it’s truly wonderful, in fact, so many folks like yourselves move here permanently after a number of years. This is a place as beautiful to live as it is to vacation.”

I neglect to tell them that in a few weeks that beach walk may require snow- shoes and a treacherous climb over snowdrifts to reach the shore, but no matter. They’ve had their moment to ponder what it would be like to live permanently on vacation. And I’ve had my moment to consider what it’s like to live in a stunning place, spending most of my time indoors like any other hardworking native with a day job.

It strikes me that the whole conversation is odd, a recent convention in human history. The turning point for the American family vacation didn’t occur until a young preacher from Boston named William H.H. Murray published a book in 1869 on the Adirondack wilderness, opening the door to hikers and seekers of solace with nature and with God.

The Bible doesn’t talk about vacations, not once. But it does speak of respite, and rest, and Sabbath keeping, and solace. The Psalms of David remind us that in the midst of every laboring day, we can create a mini-Sabbath by lifting our eyes to the hills, or the burnt orange of maple, or sea glass green of wave or rocky shore. There we draw away for a moment, if not in body, in the quiet recesses of our minds and spirits, to vacation with God.

Prayer: God of heaven and earth, all creation is full of your glory. Open my eyes to see the beauty and wonder of all things bright and golding, and to rest there.  Return me refreshed to ordinary time throughout the turning of yet another extraordinary day.

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

Pastor Verlee A. Copeland