Walking along the Thames Path in Abingdon or playing with grandchildren may not, at first sight, constitute a connection with the holy. Holidays have become a form of escape from the routine, time away from the responsibilities of the here and now. Google the word ‘holiday’ and the page will fill with advertisements from tour companies offering you the best deals on hotels, flights and cruises. There are plenty of opportunities to get away from whatever you are trying to escape from but little in the way of connecting with life at a deeper level.
It was this need to foster connections that had me pushing a swing in the local park and delighting in a house filled with the noise of children and grandchildren. It is not only the demands of my present situation that has me wondering about why there is so little time for the important things in life. Passing on life experiences to the next generation or hearing their stories and being part of their lives is as important a vocation as answering the call to ministry. The need to balance the personal and the corporate is an increasingly vital task for us all.
We may prefer to have our lives in easily labelled files but life is not like that. In reality we have to balance different demands, different vocations – minister, elder, church member, spouse, parent, or friend. We get it wrong when we think that one is more important than another. They all matter and need to be held in life giving tension. A holiday should be less ‘getting away’ and more ‘getting into balance’. I always have liked the description of Christian discipleship as sitting on a three legged stool. The three legs are our relationship with family and friends, our faith relationships and our own needs. Get one leg shorter or longer than the others and you fall off.
If a holiday helps us gets things back in a proper relationship and opens the door to fresh experiences of life then it has served its purpose.