Hello again, Blog! It’s been awhile!
Since my last post from the Grand Canyon I’ve made my way back to Durham, beached it with some of my besties in Charleston, reunited with my support group of triangle area chuch-worker-types, and hosted a dear friend at my house in Durham for a couple nights. This week began my family’s 30th annual beach vacation (mom, dad, aunt, uncle, sister, bro-in-law, nephew, two cousins, their spouses, and three cousins once removed) While there has been PLENTY to post about over the past two weeks, I just couldn’t bring myself to separate from my friends and family in order to stick my face in an iPad long enough to write about it. (more on technology and sabbath later)
But, after a long day on the beach, and some fireworks, many are heading to bed and I’m back to writing about Sabbath.
I do have an entire crate of books to read this summer and had planned on getting a jump start while at the beach this week. I’m notoriously bad at making time in my daily schedule for reading but was certain this Sabbatical would give me the time I needed to dive into a few books that have been on my list and my shelf for years.
So far this week, I’ve made it through half a book. HALF! And it’s even a book about Sabbath! But every time I pick it up, I’m surrounded by requests from the little, sweet cousins here at the beach: Kim, help me build a sandcastle!; Kim, watch me jump a wave!; Kim, will you go in the water with me?; Kimmie, look at this shell I found!; Kim, do you want a pretzel?; Ki-Ki (as my 18 month old nephew says) Ki-Kiiiiiii. The “distractions” are endless. But they are so fun that I can’t even seriously call them distractions. I love every minute of it!
For 30 years, our family has made this beach vacation week a big priority. As our family has grown with in-laws and children, we’ve moved houses to accommodate. Even now, many in our clan are cramming their little families into rooms that get a little uncomfortable by Thursday. But the idea of getting two houses is just too hard to bear. We love the togetherness, even when dinner gets louder and louder each year and bedtime for the young ones gets more and more challenging; when parents and siblings get on one another’s nerves; when kids are needy and napping schedules don’t quite jive. It’s worth it. My cousins and I grew up going to the beach together. This is our happy place…the place where we’ve made endless wonderful memories; where we’ve learned to share, to go with the flow, and enjoy creation and, most importantly, to enjoy one another. Us four cousins wouldn’t trade our 200+ family vacation days at the beach for anything and we all want the same experiences for our kids.
For many, I’m sure this sounds like anything but vacation (maybe a bad joke): 11 adults, an 8-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a toddler move to the beach for a week… But for us, it’s a bit of a dreamland. Yes, it’s hard for those with children. (I’m still free from all of that serious responsibility!) Yes, meals are loud and rarely do the adults eat without interruption. Yes, there are grumpy afternoons and occasional temper tantrums. But we are TOGETHER and we are GRATEFUL for one another and for the beautiful coastline nature offers.
The grown-ups spend much of the week remembering (which is the first part of the Sabbath commandment). “Remember when Cousin G spent the day halfway down the canal catching shrimp and got a mud-spotted sunburn? Remember when we used to hold on to the rope while skiing and knee boarding until our hands fell asleep? Remember when we boogie boarded until we had rashes? Remember when MB loved (and still loves) Mom’s homemade fudge? Remember when Daddy built sea turtles and dolphins in the sand? Remember when G got a speeding ticket in the boat and we could hear Kim laughing in the boat all the way down the waterway? Remember when P was a baby and she ate so much sand!? Remember the house with the spiral staircase and how everyone fell down it? Remember the house that was close enough for us cousins to walk to the general store for candy? Remember the water slides? Remember the salt-water taffy? Remember the sunburns!? Remember…remember…remember… So much to recall after 30 summers at the beach together. So many wonderful memories of fun, relaxation and family. And each year, we begin looking ahead to our next summer in wonder… what will the kids be like in a year? will our family grow more by next summer? who’s going to be the one to catch the big fish next year?
With all of the activity over the past 30 years and especially this year as the 3rd generation grows in number, you may be wondering just how a house with 15 people equals Sabbath. It’s far from quiet. There is no sleeping in. And we spend most days in the hot sun chasing kids up and down the beach. But we do it TOGETHER, in community with one another. We spend serious quality time with each other remembering our past weeks at the coast and anticipating our next ones.
Doing Sabbath right doesn’t always mean quiet rest. More often, it means community and family. Orienting life around Sabbath is about allowing time in the week to remember what joy a day of Sabbath rest brought. It’s about anticipating the next Sabbath day and preparing for it to make it the most restful, holy day of the week.
Our family has ordered our life around this week of vacation at the beach. We plan and prepare so that we may fully enjoy it. We gather in true community (with all of the wonderful and hard things that go along with it) to enjoy one another, creation, and rest. We gather to remember the joy of the previous years and to anticipate the happy days to come in future years at the beach.
This week, for us, is an annual sabbath.
Remember. Anticipate. Repeat.
What were your most joyful Sabbath days? How will you prepare to enjoy the Sabbath day that is coming? How will you make all of that happen again next week?