Finally, I'm back! I hope you have not been too bored with God Talk for the last three weeks. :o) I was not able to post much because I was on vacation in Ashland and in Michigan. It's good to be back home, but re-entry into the workweek after vacation is always rough. I've been looking forward to the weekend since Monday.
I am so glad I had the chance to visit with so many of you in Ashland. Of course, the highlight for me was being able to share a message with you in church and enjoy coffee hour afterward. It was also good to go to visiting hours for my confirmation mentor, Jan Barnes. When I was attending First UMC Ashland as a teen, she taught me all about the liturgy we used each Sunday, the hymns we sang, and the symbols in the sanctuary and the stained glass windows. Jan encouraged me to be involved in church, to make new friends, and to be aware of God's love for me every day. I remember when she took my best friend and me swimming one afternoon in one of FUMC church members' pool. The three of us ate pizza and had all kinds of goofy fun in the pool! It was hard after she got Alzheimer's, because she didn't remember my face, but my dad says she always asked after me when she saw him. I'm glad I visited with her family and told them about Jan's impact on my life when I first became a United Methodist. They seemed glad that I am carrying on Jan's passion for beautiful Christian worship.
For the second half of my vacation, I traveled with my husband and his family to Petoskey, Michigan for a wedding. Stephen and I don't have a car, so we really enjoyed using his mom's car to road trip our way up to Petoskey. Northern Michigan is one of the most beautiful places in all of God's creation, I think. The forests are old and majestic, and Little Traverse Bay has several very nice beaches. The sunsets over Lake Michigan are some of the most beautiful in the world! They reminded me of the sunsets we saw when we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii. At the rehearsal dinner, I was given a Petoskey stone as a favor. Petoskey stones are bits of rock that date from the era when Michigan was covered in ocean. There were lots of coral living in the sea, and when the sea dried up and the coral died, the reefs were compressed and the outlines of their skeletons were preserved. You can see their little coral mouths in the stone!
It reminded me that God's world is very old and has gone through many transformations in order to become what I see today.
I was also soberly reminded of why I am a United Methodist when I realized that the rehearsal dinner would be held in a casino. By Michigan law, all casinos outside Detroit must be tribally owned and operated. The casino to which we drove was on a reservation. The dinner was decadent: luscious appetizers, filet mignon, chocolate mousse with raspberries, and wine from a huge rotating cabinet in the center of the room that went all the way up to the ceiling! My parents in law took me in a separate door just for the restaurant so that I wouldn't have to walk through the casino, out of respect for my moral position on gambling. That was very nice of them. Still, the delicious tastes I enjoyed were juxtaposed with the knowledge that they exist as a lure to get people to stay longer at the casino, so the house can take more of their money. I looked around at the other people eating in the restaurant and wondered how many of them could actually afford to throw their money away at a casino. Were they harboring hopes of getting rich quick? I was glad to put my hope in God that night, and know that God will take care of me, as the hymn says, "come what may."
All in all, it was a good vacation. I'm so glad I could take some time off to reconnect with family and friends, enjoy God's creation outdoors, have some fun, and take a few moments to sharpen my social consciousness.
How do you experience your spirituality when you are on vacation? Do you feel that God meets you wherever you happen to be vacationing?