Friday, February 22, 2008

C'mon Already, It's Only a Vacation!

I started writing this in the middle of the night to my kids, but I thought I would share it with my one or two blog readers as well.

Hi Family,
I know that we don’t have to explain ourselves to you, but something has plagued me about our trip to Hawaii.
Bottom line, for months I had been hoping for an extended sabbatical from church but the search process for the new youth guy wasn’t letting that happen. So we reassessed and took the long vacation instead. I got permission to get away for 3 weeks. With the cheaper airfares we got, we felt that we both could use the emotional break from the load of ministry and to have the chance to re-calibrate. The downside of using vacation time and resources for this was that we couldn’t include you kids with us. Aligning all of our schedules was also a big barrier to making something like this work for all of us.
Yes, I know each of you would say that mom and I don’t need to have all of our vacation plans work around you all. But on the other hand, stretching the proverb, “Better is a little where there is love than eating steaks where there is strife.” We didn’t have strife on our vacation, but we did have plenty of “steaks” that could have been richer with you to enjoy them with us. Frequently, mom and I would say things like, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious to watch Kyle break into an imitation of the hula dancers?” or, “Shannon would probably say this about now, and it would crack us up.” Or, Megan would love to be in NATURE like this.” Sharing experiences bonds people. I want more shared experiences with you.
Also, my gift of Thomas Welsh-ness made it hard to spend money like we did. We were frugal to a point, but Hawaii isn’t a cheap vacation destination. Yes, we’ve saved for something like this for 10 years and we have the empty-nest freedom to go and do things. Again, I wouldn’t trade our experiences for the world, but I am led by God and conscience to balance the money we spent on ourselves with a more earnest resolve not to make self-directed spending a habit or a focus. I really did return, thinking about the poor more and how empty it would be to have lots of money to simply spend on oneself to accumulate experiences for oneself. This self-orientation simply amplifies the loneliness we try to conceal with money. I’m reminded of how easy it is to plan out our future self-indulgences so that we always have something to look forward to that will hopefully bring some relief to our drab, wintry drudgery.
The dozens (hundreds?) of tents of homeless people on the beach 15 minutes away from one of the world's most luxurious resorts has etched itself into my mind. We found that our resort management won’t refer its guests to any business that would cause people to drive past these homeless encampments. This is understandable from a business image perspective, but it’s really sad to me.

You might think, why is Dad so evaluative about a vacation? Can’t he just enjoy a time away? Yes I can and I did. I just wanted each of you to have a glimpse into my soul. I hope you’re not sick of these Proverbs, but here’s one that started me on this rant:

Proverbs 15:21 (NASB)

Folly is joy to him who lacks sense,

But a man of understanding walks straight.

My Paraphrase:

Screwing around and random activities make the fool happy;

But even the recreation of the wise is purposeful and yields good results.

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