Being on vacation is in some ways like inhabiting another dimension. Thoughts of work and the concerns of home impinge. Emails remind me that life goes on, that bills await payment, work rests in my inbox, and people still have problems, of course.
I delete emails.
I absentmindedly can't remember to return calls. Given that it's three hours later at home, I always seem to have the excuse that it's not a good time. Really, though, I resent the intrusion, am guarding the space I have. After all, I'm checking out.
I quit checking Facebook.
I give Twitter a rest.
I am here, not there, and all the problems and concerns of that world will remain for when I return. I have to remember that.
But it's not such a different world after all. Sitting on my patio this morning, looking past the wash that I walk in, I can see 50 miles, clear across a city of over one million people, and I read this: "How lonely sits the city that was full of people" (Lam. 1:1). I know the writer is lamenting a Jerusalem emptied out in exile, and yet looking out across the city I cannot help but feel the writer pointing out toward the city here, feel a tinge of exile myself. We are not where we belong. I can vacate my own city but no matter where I am, people are by and large living in exile, emptied out of life with the One who made them.
There are those who say that the desert, mountains, and air here are spiritual. They worship place in a kind of neo-paganism. Walk a little while in the evening air, stare long enough at the mountains, watch the wildlife around you, and you are tempted to say the same. And yet the strangeness of the place, its vivid nature, is really a window to the God who made us, holy ground only in the sense that it bears His mark.
It's like the full moon in the sky tonight. It has no light of its own but simply reflects the light of the sun that it's given. Everything is full of His light. Everything, even in exile, points to Him.
Rocks really do cry out. The heavens do declare the glory of God. They pour out speech. Thy never stop talking, never stop proclaiming that God is great, and good, and will bring all the exiles Home.
A vacation can give you space to have thoughts like that, give you time to check in.