I have twinkle lights on my deck. They hang in direct reflection of my husband’s love for me, because he doesn’t give a hoot about twinkle lights but humors me anyway. I can’t explain how excited I am about these dumb lights. I am even more amused that in less than a week, my neighbors to the back were stringing white Christmas lights all over their deck rails. I’m telling you it was a great idea. My husband’s wry grin and willingness to sit out under the lights with me confirms it.
I’m not sure why, but globe string lights above a patio have the same effect as candles inside my home. It is called romance. These simple strands of lights create the most extravagant atmosphere. I feel like I am on vacation every time I walk out on the deck and sit under them.
I’ve been smitten with this idea for at least a year. Frankly, it’s what light-hanging-husband gets for taking me to a fabulous beach café last summer where strands of globe lights had been liberally strung above the open air seating area. The sand dining space was lavishly set with rugs, luxurious patio sectionals as well as solid wood tables surrounded by artfully mismatched chairs worthy of my dining room.
What is it about indoor furniture in an outdoor setting? Everybody is doing it. How many family portraits have you seen lately taken in overstuffed chairs under a tree? There is something delightfully out of place or dangerous about indoor furnishings exposed to the elements.
Silly or not, globe string lights say vacation to me. Which really should please my husband, because I could be perfectly satisfied with a staycation on my deck. And string lights are considerably cheaper than a trip to the beach.
What is our obsession with vacations about anyway?
Seriously, where do we find that in scripture? It just isn’t there. Yet, we crave vacations and holidays of all sorts and after Memorial Day, folks take off for their favorite place of recreation by the droves. Vacations represent much more than a day off of school or work, they are defined by the contrast to our regular life schedule. We seek to escape the mundane. Most of the year, we race around, work overtime, and haul our kids to a million activities basically cramming 20 pounds of life into a 10 pound month and wonder why we are spent at the end of every day. Crazier yet, a week or two away is supposed to rejuvenate us to come back to the same old grind.
Don’t get me wrong; I think vacations are awesome. Last year my husband and I logged over 7500 hundred miles on the back of his Harley as we trekked all the way to the west coast and back in a 3-week-period. That WAS relaxing. Jesus told me lots of stuff on that trip and I took many naps on the back of the bike. Don’t judge me, I was super tired from a recent writing deadline and while balance can be an art form, it is quite possible and comfortable to sleep back there.
For those of us who live far from immediate family, vacations permit us the time and opportunity to reconnect. Vacations can be great opportunities to serve others in missions.
For many, vacations simply provide the sanity to resume our place in a challenging work environment.
But I am beginning to notice a correlation between the pace of our regular lives and the desperate need to “get away.” For those in certain “on call” vocations, it can be difficult to totally relax unless we are geographically out of reach. Only when nothing short of an immediate family member’s death could warrant our return, is it possible to completely unwind. While this sad fact may be true, I’m not convinced of how healthy it is.
Perhaps we got here by solidly overestimating our own contribution and importance on the planet. Trust me, the world would go on if we made a hasty exit. Yet, our control-freak-selves think no one can do our work quite like us, we justify the need to cram extraneous activity into our 20-pound life, and we are doing it at break neck speed.
Of all people on earth, Jesus is the one person who could have legitimately been in a hurry. Yet he wasn’t. We have no record of him running, sprinting, or even breaking into a brisk trot. His disciples were significantly more attentive to time: sending people away at the end of the day, eagerly anticipating Jesus’s kingdom reign, and wondering why he waited until Lazarus died before returning to Bethany. After all, Jesus had only three lousy years to heal a bunch of folks, train some disciples and launch Christianity. If anyone was faced with the urgency of a life calling, it was Jesus.
Let’s face it, we aren’t that important.
Jesus never hurried anywhere. He napped…during storms. He sat down when he was tired. He never appeared frazzled over his to do list. And we don’t see anything that resembles a vacation. Rather, he was committed to regular rest, regular participation in religious festivals and journeys, and regular celebrations with heathens.
An enviable life pattern, really.
This year I am committed to seeking more regular Sabbath rest. God didn’t design us to go like sixty for 11 months out of the year and play catch up in a single two-week period of time. What a horrible rhythm. That’s like staying awake for 11 months and then hibernating for a solid fortnight.
We are not bears.
We are creatures who require regular breaks from the tasks of our day. Whether it is tea at eleven, coffee at two, or wine at seven, we are built to spend time in reflection, rest, and refreshment. Not to mention a full day of downtime every week. Perhaps the discipline of rest isn’t even the issue, but rather our crazy 20-pound life. Paring down our activity to what Jesus really wants us to do is a worthy goal.
I am still counting on another lovely trip to a beach café with awesome lighting but in the meantime, I will be spending time under my own deck lights this summer learning the rhythm of rest.
Get yourself some twinkle lights and join me.