Vacation or Retreat: Day Two

Tuesday – Due to COVID, the hotel’s breakfast buffet was closed. We weren’t on a schedule, so we went out for breakfast. Although it’s a chain and we have one at home, we had never eaten at the restaurant we chose. It was in the historic district. The architecture in the area is gorgeous. We took our time (and our laptops) and worked while we ate. I know, this is supposed to be a vacation, but for months Ron and I didn’t have time to work together and combine our efforts.

The staff at the restaurant were amazing. They took the time to greet us and make us feel welcome. They didn’t even make us feel unwelcome for spending the extra time working and taking up a table.

After breakfast, we went to the beach, being careful to wear sunscreen because I burn easily. A trip to the beach for me is both very simplistic yet very complex.

According to Mark Gungor, men have a “nothing” box in their brain. You can ask a man what he’s thinking about and he can honestly answer, “Nothing.” I believe it, but being a woman, I can’t mimic it. The closest I get to thinking “nothing,” is when I am at the beach, and that requires conscious effort. No, that isn’t counterintuitive. 

It’s the one place where I can smell the salty air, listen to the waves as they crash along the shore and the birds squawking as they chase after a tasty morsel. I feel the wind and sun on my skin and experience the relaxation of breathing deeply. Even in those circumstances, I still do a little thinking, but mostly I am “experiencing.”

The other thing I do in these times is to approach the throne of God. I imagine the beach is empty except for God sitting on his throne and me, at his feet. I seek to spend quality time with him. I ask his forgiveness for the things that have interfered with my time with him, thank him for his blessings, and renew my relationship with him. I spend as much of that time as I can just listening to him. What did I learn from him on this trip? I learned that I ask him to stay with me and walk with me a lot, but then I stop paying attention to him. He’s right beside me the whole time and somehow I keep thinking he’s wandered off somewhere. I’m the one who keeps saying, “Wait here, I’ll be right back.” He’s never left my side; I’m just not paying attention.

At the beach, we found a covered picnic table and spent quite a while there as I prayed, thought, and confessed my weaknesses to God, and to my husband. Both were kind enough to forgive me. In college, one of the exercises in prayer that we learned was to choose a place we are at peace and imagine approaching the throne of grace and spend quality time with the Lord in that place. Mine was at the beach. I always take time at any beach to do this. I took a chisel to the ice to whittle away at it. This time it cracked open wide. Pieces of ice flew away from my heart, mind, and soul, freeing me from things I’m not even sure I can describe.

Then I played. I walked through the surf while Ron took pictures of the birds as they chased tasty morsels in and out of the waves. That night we again relaxed by eating at a Caribbean seafood restaurant on the waterfront then went for a walk on the pier. I got a tiny bit of sunburn, but it wasn’t bad at all.

Our days were simple and basic on the outside, but complex, on the inside.

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