IN Europe, throughout most of August many communities practically shut down because such a vast number of people go on vacation. Yet there is often quite a contrast between the excitement and anticipation preceding a vacation, when everyone is bright and cheerful, and the rush and demands of actually departing for the vacation, when people might be arguing or feeling thoroughly exhausted.
Do vacations always have to be exercises in stressfulness? For some who've never taken one, that might seem like a foolish question. How could relaxation, ease, and entertainment be stressful? Yet people's expectations of holidays, and especially of one another, are sometimes so high that the smallest difficulty or slightest less-than-loving comment can seem to "ruin everything." And whether you're sitting in a traffic jam for three hours trying to get out of the city; waiting in an airport because your flight has been delayed, canceled, or you've just plain missed it; or spending hours driving a car while your kids are driving you crazy, there is certainly a need for overcoming stress!
Do you know, though, that peace is always available to us? That we have instant access to calm--even when plans, events, and modes of transport go haywire? This peace has its source in God. In the face of stress, we can turn to the oasis of good that God supplies. God is our creator, and we can never be separated from Him. You and I are actually His spiritual reflection. Peace, poise, and grace are Christ's, Truth's, constant gifts to us.
Christ Jesus surely knew the availability and value of true peace. Some of his words to his disciples were, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). There is a peace built on the awareness that God is ever-present; that His divine law creates order and produces harmony. This is the understanding that Jesus has given to us all.
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote: "If beset with misguided emotions, we shall be stranded on the quicksands of worldly commotion, and practically come short of the wisdom requisite for teaching and demonstrating the victory over self and sin.
"Be temperate in thought, word, and deed. Meekness and temperance are the jewels of Love, set in wisdom" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 79). The commotion of emotion--stress, impatience, inconsideration, and so on--melts in the powerful light of God-centered thinking. Our reflection of spiritual peace, of divine grace, of brotherly love, gives us much-needed "victory over self and sin."
At that time when everyone is bright and cheerful, filled with the anticipation of a wonderful holiday, there's something more to look forward to than only ease, relaxation, and adventure. We can anticipate opportunities to reflect God, to express actively those "jewels of Love," meekness and temperance--even on the way to the airport!
Vacations and holidays are wonderful, whether you live in France, Mexico, the United States, or anywhere else. They never need to be exercises in stressfulness. Through prayer, you have access to spiritual peace and God's power to heal--which never go on vacation.