This must be what vacation feels like.
Katie and I got up this morning about 9:30. I read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate to her while we had tea and then fixed a very late breakfast. We may not leave the room today, except to walk on the beach, right outside our balcony.
Vacation is a new concept for us. Or at least vacation like this. We travel a lot, but often to see kids and grandkids. I also travel with students or for work, and have for more of my spring “breaks” than not. This expenditure of time and energy is fine and even necessary. I love my family and I like my job.
But to set aside loose unstructured days along a mostly unpopulated beach is new and rare. I say unpopulated because we are on the edge of the low season and it will soon be overrun with families and college students on spring break. Myrtle Beach is the most popular beach on the East coast; there is something like 13 million visitors a year, but fortunately comparatively few of them are here this weekend.
Which is good. We weren’t looking for recreation. We were looking for restoration, and watching the sea from our room is a good way to find it. What we are reflecting about mostly is the pace of our lives, and the role times like this might have in the years that remain for us.
We aren’t looking for this pace everyday. I expect to teach another seven to ten years. Our engagement in ministry, we hope, will not end before we do. As God wills, we hope to continue to live rich, full lives. But clearly time is a dwindling resource. Even so, we may need more breaks, perhaps even longer ones. We could go full bore until we die, but longevity would suffer, and so would effectiveness.
And there is something more. Growing older brings new responsibilities. Deeper insights are expected. More considered opinions are called for. We can be wise counselors and gracious hosts. Or we can be tottering old fools and self-centered seniors.
To do either of the former requires rest and reflection. What do we need to say and who do we need to say it to? Should we say anything at all? Katie is planning to write some notes later. Every word is important, and she needs time and space to do this well.
But right words are only part of it. Where shall we go? What shall we do? How can we help? How should we use our money? We have faced those questions for more than sixty years, over forty of them together. They seem more important now, even urgent. We need time to think about them and energy to act on them. So this moment is a grace, which may flow through our lives and touch the lives of others.
There are dolphins playing along the edges of the surf as the sun glints off the white-capped waves. We will go soon and walk beside them. The waves roll in and the tide goes out. The currents shift as the sun warms the sea a thousand miles away. There is a rhythm to be sensed; this is a season to be enjoyed. There is grace to be experienced and shared.
For time to think about this, we are grateful.
See also I must go down to the beach again