One Hour Vacations

My friend, Dave, is a seven-string guitar player. Yes, I know. Six strings are more than enough,  but I’ve never been able to disabuse him of his particular heresy. Dave spends much of his time driving the highways to his next gig, then to his students, and maybe another venue, in another town,  late in the evening.  I guess this is why he says, “I take my vacations one hour at a time.” On this morning I drive north on El Toro road toward my twice weekly art festival gig. Verdant grass, still plush from spring rains, and wild trees line the old country road. Bright sumptuous morning! A Mozart trio for piano, clarinet, and viola blasts from my radio. Yo-Yo Ma plays viola on his cello. I make a hard left onto Laguna Canyon Road. Traffic slows to crawl. Road narrows. Walls of the gorge extend dramatically into an azure sky. A perfect Chinese landscape painting. I turn in to park. Mini-vacation is over. Time to play.

by Nathaniel

Post Vacation Thoughts

I have returned from my vacation to Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Traveling 1500 miles magically transported me to my past again but there were new thoughts and experiences this time. My sister recently moved to a small city about fifteen miles from our hometown and I had never been to her new abode. I kept wondering why we rarely ventured there when we were kids. Northfield, Minnesota has two colleges (Carleton and St. Olaf), beautifully restored Victorian houses, and a quaint main street where the bank that was famously robbed by the Jesse James gang still stands. As I walked the wetlands behind her home each day, observing mud ducks, blue herons, and orioles, I prayed over the land of my birth that is no longer my home. I’ve read that our first years are the most formative so I bowed down to the sacred rich soil in which I was planted. Why I left is not mysterious to me anymore and yet, I hold the past and present with gentle hands. Pieces of my soul remain loyal to both.

by DC

Daring Greatly

Sometimes just staying home and reading a good book feels like a vacation. I have been reading Brené Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly” and pondering that deeply wounded place inside each of us, which she calls shame, and its antidote, which she calls “living wholeheartedly through vulnerability.” I couldn’t help but reflect on how our Christian heritage empowers us to “dare greatly.” We are invited to bring change into our lives through prayer, the Eucharist, and the legacy of Christ’s life; to make amends for wounding others, asking for forgiveness, which takes courage in the midst of fear, and giving forgiveness to those who hurt us deeply by letting go of our resentments and anger. Being vulnerable to Christ and allowing His strength, courage, mercy, compassion, and wisdom to reach into our hearts and guide every step of our earthly journey takes wholeheartedness. The outcome brings freedom, joy, contentment, and assurance that, no matter how rocky the road becomes, we walk with the grace of God, His light shining before us, in us and through us!

by Gracie

Simple Gifts

When I travel on trips or vacations and especially pilgrimages, I sometimes bring home a rock or shell to close friends to symbolize that they were carried along with me on my journey through my daily thoughts and prayers. It is a simple way to bring back a piece of God’s earth that I trod along for weeks. I choose each piece carefully. It is similar to one bringing back souvenirs. I may have left physically but not emotionally. We are always connected through the heart. A friend recently brought me this shell from her trip to Orcas Island in Washington. Tucked inside of the shell was this beautiful heart. When she gave it to me I felt the hand of God. “See I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.” Isaiah 49:16

by Cathy

On the Boardwalk

When our family could not afford to go away on a summer vacation when I was young, the ultimate day trip for me and my friends was the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.  We would spend all day at the beach, body surfing and using baby oil to tan. We would then wander up to the arcade to play air hockey and share a candied caramel apple. The thrill for the day was riding the giant roller coaster. We would stay until dusk and enjoy the beach concert on the sand listening to one of our local, favorite rock bands.  While the summer temperatures stayed humid and hot into the night, we would then dare each other to hop the fence of neighboring motels and cool off in their pools. We would end up visiting five or six pools, laughing our way, trying to cool off and not get caught. What a perfect day full of water, sun, candy, music, games, rides and “pool hopping.”  Those kind of days remind me of how God wants us to be, full of wonder, awe and playfulness.

by Liz

Little Free Gifts

There’s been a growing trend lately of “Little Free Libraries.” If you have ever taken a bike ride or walk through different neighborhoods you occasionally come across a box in the front of a home stacked with various books that can be borrowed and read. You can either take a book or leave a book for the next person. All of us that like to read benefit. There was recently a story out of a small town in rural northern New York about a family who started a “Little Free Pantry” in the front of their home. You can take food out of it or if you’ve just been fed you can leave some food for the next needy person. All of us that like to eat benefit. What’s next? Perhaps one day we’ll stroll by a home with a “Little Free Blessing” box in the front.  Anyone who needs a blessing can take one from the box. Or, if you’ve just been blessed, you can leave a life-giving blessing for the next person. All of us that need the Holy Spirit benefit.

by Diego

A Moment of Holiness

Some time ago our family went on a summer road trip that included visiting Zion National Park. Zion is a steep, stone cathedral carved in granite by the meandering Virgin River.  A favorite activity for the many visitors is to hike the “Narrows,” a spot at the upper end of the park where the river tapers into a vertical gorge.  The farther you wade up river, the narrower the gorge gets until at times, it is only two or three arm spans across.  I took off with the hope of working my way upstream until I was completely alone.  I passed young families, teenagers and groups of college kids singing on islets of rocks until I rounded a bend.  Here the going got tougher as the gorge constricted even more.  The canyon walls rose straight up, flat and speckled by lichen, as the Virgin murmured and roiled around flat table rocks midstream.  I climbed up onto one of these stony mesas and sat there in the cool gorge while the clear, clear waters went rushing by. Hundreds of feet above, the sky was a ribbon of blue with bright white clouds moving like herds against an indigo canvas. There was a holiness there, a moment woven together by water, rock and sky, that connected me to all of humanity, from early man to Native Americans who found in nature, hallowed ground.

by Andrew

Family Meals

My late in-laws retired to the Jersey Shore. When my children were small we’d pack the car up Friday and head there to spend the weekend. My father-in-law was a chef and it was fine dining at every meal. He had a commercial grill outside would cook anything from eggs in the morning to lobster at night. My sisters-in-law and mother-in-law did all the rest, but somehow they rarely finished their prep at the same time he finished cooking. “Pop” would sit at the head of the table and say “Can’t we all just sit down together and eat!?” That’s become a joke whenever we are eating a family meal. From a different perspective, I think how we are called to the table every week at Sunday Mass and given the opportunity to have a “family” meal as Jesus did with his disciples…and there we are all together at the same time, in the miracle of the Eucharist!

by JAM