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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vacations, Holidays, & Pilgrimages

Sorry for the break, but I'm just now getting back into the swing of life after an all-too-brief vacation.  And, as can be expected, there were loads of phone calls and emails to return, along with an unexpected visitor and some other stuff.  Loads of fun!

This is only the second family vacation we've ever taken, the first one being two years ago... and this is after over 15 years as a family.  Part of it is history: my family vacations were often marked loads of stress and illness.  Our vacation options often involved trips to the mountains, which meant (for me) motion sickness, altitude sickness, cold, wet, and a grumpy father insistent on catching a trout.

It has taken years for me to get the idea that vacations can actually be enjoyable.  The funny thing is that I live in the same town, and so the vacations are much the same, minus the trout fishing... and the stress... and the sickness.  We are not having a 'Purpose-Driven Vacation.'

Vacations are important because they break the routine.  I love routine, even though I am in a job that thrives on breaking it: people have problems at weird times, and I have to quickly respond even though I had other plans.

Routines are helpful, but they can often lull us into a false sense of comfort.  Yes, we have much less to think about when we have a 'rhythm' to our day or week.  We can then adjust this pattern to avoid looking at our world as it really is, and who we really are.

Pilgrimages are designed to do the same thing: break the believer's monotonous spiritual life.  Occasionally, we need to knock the rust off and see more of the Church than just the tiny corner we occupy.  Many parishes become wracked  with dissent because the people there simply don't go anywhere else.  The parish then are in becomes 'everything there is,' and that means ever change is an all-or-nothing proposition.

The more I see of the Church, the less critical it becomes for me to control my small part in it.  If I really want this or that, I know it exists elsewhere and I can go get it there if I really need it.  Pilgrimages are helpful in that way.

Of course, they are more challenging in a country this spread out.  So, I recommend you work the two events together: take a vacation, and make sure you work in a spiritual journey along the way.  That's what we did when we stopped off at a monastery just before ascending the mountains.  The nuns wanted us to return on the way back, but I spared them having to host a family that had spent four days in a dusty campground with no showers.  They deserved that kind of consideration.

In the path of sobriety, conventions and trips to see other fellowships in different places are also very helpful.  It is wonderful to sit in an AA meeting in Romania and find all the same problems and joys that we have in California.  Getting the bigger picture of recovery makes our individual problems seem smaller.

Once you have cleaned up enough of the wreckage of your past (like getting the ankle monitor off or getting past your bills so that you have some reserve cash), take a trip.  Go on a journey.  Use you map and meeting directory as your guide.  You can even call the regional office and tell them what you are planning.  You may be surprised at how welcoming fellow addicts can be to a traveler.

If you can't do it right now, then ask God to provide the opportunity in the future.  He will provide the right time.

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