Monday, July 25, 2011
The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a quiet place, and rest a while’. St. Mark 6:30-32.
For many people, summer means a family vacation. Whether it’s a trip or two to the lake, the beach or even that rare but precious jaunt to Europe, summer seems like the time we’re most inclined to be on the move.
And vacations are important. That bears repeating: vacations are important.
I mention this twice simply because many people, especially busy Westerners like us, feel guilty about taking time off to rest and relax. We have fallen hook line and sinker for the notion that we must be productive all the time. If the bottom line isn’t growing, we’re falling down on the job, as it were.
I actually have a friend who doesn’t go on vacation with his family; instead, he sends them and tells them to have fun and he’d rather stay and work. This is more than a little unhealthy, friends.
But conversely, life is not all about vacations either. To spend all of our lives dreaming of that next big vacation would simply be hedonism writ large. Furthermore, a real vacation doesn’t have to be all that grand, really. A simple weekend trip can be enough to get some rest and return refreshed. Then again, that once-in-a-lifetime trip overseas may be just what the doctor ordered. Even a simple day-long picnic with good wine and friends can fill the bill; I think, however, we’re technically supposed to call this option a ‘staycation’.
But we have to exercise a bit of caution, for a vacation that is too action packed is hardly a vacation at all. A dear friend of mine recently remarked that she and her family had just returned from their vacation, and she needed another vacation to get over it! That is no vacation!
A real vacation is one that upholds Jesus at its centre, period.
No, friends, I’m not saying every vacation has to be a religious pilgrimage or one that includes having James Earl Jones read the Bible on tape. I’m not saying that at all, though Darth Vader’s voice is always tres cool.
What I’m saying is that Christ is our refreshment, our regeneration and our rest. And if we don’t recognise that fact our supposed vacations are for naught. ‘Come unto me all ye who travail and are heavy laden, and I shall refresh you’, beckons Jesus. That’s what He meant when he told the disciples to ‘Come away by yourselves to a quiet place, and rest a while’. The disciples had been occupied with the tiresome work of ministry, and they needed a break. But they needed a break to once more cast their gaze on Christ, not to escape reality.
Translated to our own day, we are those disciples who’ve been exhausted by the cares of the world and have forgotten to go away and ‘rest a while’. Is God calling you to take a vacation?
Above all else, while we're vacationing this summer we mustn’t forget that true rest only comes from resting in the One in whom we truly ‘live and move and have our being’. And time spent in His presence is indeed genuine rest! Perhaps this is why the word holiday in the fourteenth century meant both a 'religious festival' and 'a day of recreation'. Oh how we, too, must come to see our holidays as both religious occasions and time for recreation!
Finally, when I think of road trips with the family I think of that great Southern road trip staple: pimento cheese sandwiches. I still remember the shock I suffered when I learned that Yankees didn’t keep this staple handy! Oh well...
These sandwiches are great for a road trip, especially with kids. Try picking a scenic place to stop and enjoy these. They pair well with a light-bodied summer Rosé from Tavel in the Rhone Valley of France, and they're more hearty than you think. They keep well in the cabin of the car for hours without refrigeration.
Southern Road Trip Pimento Cheese
2 cups extra-sharp grated Cheddar cheese
½ cup grated pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise, plus some for sandwiches
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Dash of Tabasco Sauce
1 (4 oz.) jar diced pimento, drained
salt and black pepper to taste
sliced loaf bread, crust removed (white, wheat or sourdough boule)
Allow cheeses to reach room temperature. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl, stirring well to ensure all ingredients are well-blended. Spread desired amount of mayonnaise on both sides of bread, spoon in cheese mixture and slice sandwiches in half.