Monday, July 11, 2016

My Summer Mantra

In my mind, nothing compares to the blissful peace (or, at the very least, comforting familiarity) of spending uninterrupted days at home. Enough work to occupy the morning and most of the afternoon, completed at an old desk featuring a map of Tolkien's Middle Earth. A stack of more library books than will likely be read before the due date, despite my loathing to admit the fact, on the wall of bookshelves. Two dogs overwhelmed with joy whenever I deem it within my means to give them a simple pat on the head.

As Maria from The Sound of Music put it, "These are a few of my favorite things!"

Wouldn't it be nice if that was all life consisted of? Old friends, familiar running routes, black coffee in "You Are My Sunshine" mugs. The comfortable, the worn, the familiarly frayed things that surround us at home.

Of course, anyone older than two can tell you that this fantasy is not how the world works. We can't always stay home and enjoy the archives of Doctor Who while eating vanilla ice cream covered in too many of the colorful sprinkles that delight young children. Sometimes, instead, we have to get up early in order to consume a hotel breakfast with hotel coffee before everyone else in said hotel wakes up and descends upon the breakfast room.

That said, I have been traveling for the last few weeks without much of a rest at home in between, heading from place to place to place. To place.

Don't misunderstand me - I love to travel! I love seeing new places, gaining new experiences and spicing up life with variety. However, as I have before mentioned, I do tend to have introvert inclinations and I love being at home.

Just over a week through, a thought kept trickling through my mind. Aren't vacations supposed to be restful? Any time something didn't happen just the way it should or I was getting tired and edgy yet again, that's what I would start thinking. Aren't vacations supposed to be restful?

That, of course, got me absolutely nowhere. How could it? Asking a useless question to yourself and not someone else in an overly sarcastic mental voice is not ever going to change anything one bit. Or so I have discovered.

I had halfheartedly been doing devotions every day of the first vacation (and a few days into the second), mostly wishing for home in between trying to glean something from distracted reading when God did one of those things where He completely and totally changes my perspective on something. I don't remember what I was reading. I don't remember what I was thinking. I do remember that I was sitting on a hotel bed in a blessedly empty room with my Bible app open on my kindle fire. But I wasn't dutifully and mindlessly reading. I was praying.

It wasn't one of those "please bless so-and-so and thank you for enough food and clothes" types of prayers (though there's nothing wrong with those). It was one of those "Just help me make it through this vacation! I can't take it any more! My brothers are driving me insane and I'm sick and I have a hundred things I would rather be doing at home right now!" prayers. One of those where you let everything spill out (sometimes including a few tears, as long as there's no one else in the room) and admit you can't do it by yourself.

Then a different thought came to me - one to replace the ever bitter Aren't vacations supposed to be restful? I know that the new thought wasn't from me though. I was still in my "get me out of here!" mindset. The new thought was this:

God is the same everywhere.

Just five simple words. God is the same everywhere. An indescribable mixture of peace and joy rose up from inside me at this new thought.

God is the same at home and at camp and on vacation and at work and in the Eiffel Tower and on the moon and everywhere else. Even when my morning routine includes spreading goopy sunscreen all over already half burnt, half tanned skin and when lunch is from a cooler in the back of the car and when respite is sought in a few feet of shade within earshot of someone else's little sister attempting karaoke. That became my new mantra (if you can call it that) for the rest of the vacation, helping to push aside Aren't vacations supposed to be restful?

The next week, I was away from home again. And guess what? Those five words were still true. I know, go figure. God is the same everywhere.

I pray that those five words stay with you and encourage you, whether you're in a hotel in Europe or a cabin in North Carolina or on the couch in your living room with an old book.

Believe it or not, after getting home a couple days ago, we're leaving again Saturday morning for yet another trip. I think my "mantra" from that second week will turn into my "mantra" for the summer as I continue to be away from home doing all sorts of different things and visiting all sorts of different places.

And as I climb into the car from the crisp Virginia early morning air on Saturday, I will remember.

God is the same everywhere.