To “vacate” means to “leave a place once occupied.”
In North America, summer is the time many people choose to leave home and travel somewhere else in order to rest and relax from ordinary work and home responsibilities. This summer we did our usual trip to Manitoba to visit extended family but we added 12 days on the east coast to explore Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland.
Just because we take a vacation from ordinary daily life does not mean that the events of ordinary daily life vacate us. We still have to eat, sleep and relieve ourselves of bodily wastes. Birth and death continue to happen—and not on a holiday schedule!
The second day into our road trip as we traveled across Alberta we received news that an uncle had died. The family visit was at a funeral rather than a dinner party.
Then on the day we were beginning our trek back home we got news from the other side of the family: an aunt died suddenly and later that same day another uncle died. In the midst of those funerals my cousin, whose mom had died, welcomed a baby into the world.
We can’t take a vacation from birth and death; they happen no matter where we are or what we are doing.
The above events caused me to do some reflection. It is good to make plans to travel, retreat and recreate but it is good to hold our plans lightly and be open to the unplanned and unexpected.
We booked accommodations on the east coast months ahead of time and thankfully the major details of our trip went smoothly as planned but accident or death could have visited us or our more immediate family. A planned vacation does not stop this.
I say this not that we should live with a sense of dread, as if we could prepare ourselves for an unexpected tragedy. Rather, CARPE DEIM! Seize the day!
I believe we did that on our vacation as we enjoyed the company of family and friends, exerted our bodies on hikes, enjoyed local food and drink, and saw amazing land-forms we had not experienced before.
Gareth Brandt lives in Abbotsford, B.C., where he teaches theology at Columbia Bible College and attends Emmanuel Mennonite Church. He blogs at garethbrandt.wordpress.com, where this post originally appeared.