I always hate it when people flaunt their warm weather escape photos when the rest of us are freezing our tushies off. Every time some blogger writes about how we all need a couple days a month where we can just escape to recharge, I get so annoyed and think WHAT type of a world do you live in where you have that luxury every month????
So first, a disclaimer, in the form of a story.
A couple months ago we were in an especially low place, an especially discouraged place, a place from which I might have snapped at James during one of his visits “You need to figure out something to look forward to and I will MAKE IT HAPPEN.” I don’t include all those low moments on ye old blog because the emotions closest to our hearts need more privacy than the rest. They are softer and more raw, more delicate and painful. Anyways, in that moment, James declared that he wanted a beach vacation to look forward to, something that we could count on, regardless of the uncertainty we were facing. However, the caveat was that we didn’t really want to spend much money. I will confess, I might have taken to angry praying. I’ve been reading the Psalms lately and deciding that we think prayer way nicer and more boring than it was originally intended. My prayers were something along the lines of Hey God. It doesn’t exactly feel like you are playing on our team these days, so if you wanted to give us a free beach vacation to show that you are maybe still interested in this very weary couple – that would be great.
Let me be clear: I do not believe that God is in the business of doling out beach vacations to show he cares. He doesn’t have to, because salvation should kind of be enough. But every now and then he delights in surprising us. As in, after a couple days of my bratty prayer, someone asked if we wanted to use their extra time share points, and our beach escape weekend was on the calendar.
When it rolled around last weekend, it couldn’t have come at a better time. It has been a rough year, and an extra rough last month. I told James the other night that it felt like I had spent the whole year twisting tighter and tighter and it had built up to the point where I felt like I was going to snap, going to rip apart.
Cue warm breezes and teal waters. We spent three days in South Florida, soaking up some much needed sun and quiet breezes. We walked on the beach, drank fancy drinks by the pool, and ate tacos that I am still thinking about. We watched way too much TV and managed to find a local donut shop that blew my mind. People, I basically have the spiritual gift of finding donuts wherever I am, and don’t even pretend like this is not a real gift. We drove down to the Keys and went snorkeling in (at? over? around?) a coral reef, marveling at the colors and trying to avoid the fanged barracudas with less than benevolent expressions. We talked about the strangeness of Christmastime in the sun, the vastness of the sea, and the total impenetrability of the ocean. We rested and ate and walked and remembered, hey, we really like being married to each other. I can’t tell you how much I needed that.
When we left DC, it was a dreary grey day where night seemed to fall too early. But when the plane peaked above the clouds, I was blinded by the beauty of the endless stretches of pale pink fluffiness, tinged with gold against the blue of the sky and the warm sun. It made me think about this past year, a year that in many ways has been cloudy, dark, and long. But that’s only because I can only see it from where I am in it, looking up at grey clouds and longing for the break, for the sun. Gazing out at that sunset, I took a deep breath and thought about the new year that will start soon. I felt the tightness untwisting, loosening, and letting me breath a little easier. We still have some loose ends from this past year to tie up, some messes to clean up, but when I look back, I can see more than just grey clouds now. I am looking for the bits of light and color that were there even when I couldn’t see them.