I prop my feet on the rim of the boat, with a fishing pole resting between bare toes — even though Dad has told me since I was 10 that no one’s ever going to catch a fish with her feet.
If Dad sees me doing it this time, he doesn’t say so. Maybe it’s because we’re both hypnotized by the lulling voice of creation–these hands of nature clapping their praise.
Night marches in. To the west, the sun sinks below pine, streaking a reflection like melted orange sherbet.
We’ve spent hours out here on this lake, and that’s what we ought to do with our time: spend it. It’s not wasting time; it’s spending it, investing really.
It’s true: I get the most out of my summer vacation by “doing” the least. I get the most of my summer vacation by simply being — by simply “spending” hours.
“Spend the afternoon, you can’t take it with you.” That’s what Annie Dillard said.
This is the magic of vacation, the reason we all need to get away: we find ourselves by losing ourselves completely.
Yes, This is how the lost get found. I look up at the sky, now dressing itself in twinkling jewelry. The moon rises — a perfect circle cutting a hole in the navy.
I breathe it in deep — this moment. I’m spending time.
Something tugs the line, so I reel, but the only thing dangling from my hook is a wad of weeds. And I’m OK with that. Because I’ve been hooked myself. I’ve been caught and captured by the Creator.
I flip open the bail and flick my tipped hook back onto a reflecting monastery that carries peace on the ripples. With a “plop,” the lure sinks under the surface. I catch a few crappie, but I wouldn’t have cared if I hooked even one.
For I’m perfectly smitten. And by the sound of things, the rest of the world is, too.
Jesus once said that if his followers fell silent, the stones would cry out. And on a Lund boat, 200 feet from shore, I’m pretty sure the stones were a-singing, along with the rest of us.
“Listen to that!” Dad says. “Those loons work pretty hard to get airborne.”
Over his left shoulder, a loon is beating its wings on the water, lifting its body and feathered praise ever Higher. It sounds like applause for Heaven.
I hear it in the ripples, too, as they clap, clap, clap against the boat — polite applause from tea-party ladies.
Earlier that day, on shore, we’d spotted three woodpeckers, drumming on a wizened, hollowed tree like hard-hatted men with jackhammers. At Mom’s ruby-filled feeder, a hummingbird beat his wings. (I read that they flap their little wings something like 53 times per second.) I couldn’t hear the sound, but oh, imagine the cacophony if you could magnify it!
When the breeze picked up that day, I heard a stadium of crisp praise, roaring through leaves and limbs.
The Good Book says the mountains and hills will burst into song, and that the trees of the field will clap their hands.
So, I’ll join with the earth and sing my praises, too. Can you hear us smiling here?
This is what our happy sounds like:
Three ways that we get the most out of our summer vacations:
LET OURSELVES GET LOST: This is how we find ourselves again … by getting lost. We don’t wear watches, or carry schedules, or use cell-phones. In this way, we slow down enough to experience the beauty around us. We lose track of time, and we lose track of worry, and no one has ever fussed if someone wants to sleep in.
WE’RE OK WITH MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: We generally have a list of things we want to do on vacation, but we don’t worry if we miss some of them. Rather, we make sure we don’t rush through the moment we’re in. If we are so harried in taking in all the sights, we won’t really see any of them. Plus, it gives us a reason to come back again!
DON’T FORGET TO HEAR THE SOUNDS, WHEN YOU SEE THE SIGHTS: We love our vacations Up North, at a lake where my parents spend their summers. I sit outside, on the end of the dock, with my eyes close, and count the sounds … the whispers in the oaks and pines, the rustling birch, the loon’s cry, and the rippling cathedral of a quiet lake. And I join the chorus, feeling praise rise up in the heart.
A LINK for you: 17 Summer Vacation Ideas for Your Kids.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVORITE SUMMER VACATION SPOT? Do you have any tips to share, on how to get the most out of vacation?
(This is an edited post from the archives, submitted for The High Calling’s writing project on vacations. You can link up until today, or head over to Charity Singleton’s blog to read the entries submitted.)