Now that many of us have been back at work or school for well over a month since Christmas break, it may feel like an awfully long stretch ahead until spring or summer vacation. Is there a way to get through the next several months without getting worn out?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole concept of vacation. Most people probably enjoy time off just to “be” or to explore something new. But who says that has to be limited to just a few weeks a year?
One definition of vacation is “a time of respite from something; intermission, rest; time free for something else, specifically time free for contemplation.” This has helped me realize that I can take a “mental vacation” whenever I feel the need.
If I’m feeling stressed or weary, I can lift my thought above those feelings, toward the divine Mind, God, to receive calming thoughts that bring peace, comfort, and poise. As I quietly affirm and feel the tender presence of God’s reassuring love, then I can patiently listen for the constructive ideas I need to move forward with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
I’ve come to view vacation not so much as something that happens only a couple of weeks a year, but more as a mental rest or spiritual refreshment that I can enjoy often. The Bible has many beautiful descriptions of this peaceful state of thought, into which we can retreat for spiritual renewal. Psalm 91 poetically invites us to “dwell in the secret place of the most High” and to “abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” The book of Isaiah speaks of “a peaceable habitation” and “quiet resting places," and further describes this state of consciousness as a “hiding place from the wind ... a covert from the tempest." Psalm 23 assures us that God leads us to “lie down in green pastures” and “beside the still waters.”
I’ve sometimes wondered how Jesus was able to cover so much territory and heal so many people without tiring. He often walked great distances from one destination to the next while spreading the good word about God’s healing love. I’ve found some interesting ideas in the book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor. She was extremely active and vibrant, especially throughout her 80s.
She wrote, “Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the material senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views” (p. 32). And we can do this too, today. I now realize that what used to tire me out wasn’t really all my activities and responsibilities; it was more a buildup of limiting, fearful thoughts trying to gang up on me and insist I was overwhelmed or overburdened. But I’ve learned from experience that I don’t have to let those thoughts define my reality.
One winter I found myself feeling not only exhausted but also fearful that I had burned myself out from working too hard. I turned to Science and Health to gain a spiritual perspective. This book explains that it’s normal and natural for us to be active and productive, since we’re the very reflection of God, who is inexhaustible divine Mind, Life, and Love (see p. 257). I was reassured by the idea that “one cannot suffer as the result of any labor of love, but grows stronger because of it” (p. 387). After praying for a while with these ideas, I soon felt rejuvenated and was able to joyfully resume all of my activities.
I’ve also been learning to let moments of vacation happen spontaneously. One evening when I was working on a project in my home, a beloved friend called, whom I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. My inner voice said, “There’s always room in your life to talk with a friend.” I stopped what I was doing and relaxed into a long and satisfying conversation, and afterward I felt that I’d had a wonderful minivacation just by appreciating the opportunity at hand.
What a relief to know that there’s a tranquil place in my thought where I can go for rest and refreshment whenever I need a little getaway. The Psalmist affirms, “Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually” (71:3, New King James Version). That’s the kind of “resort” I enjoy visiting often. In fact, why not stay there all year round?