How do we include God on our family vacation?
God created humans and put a little of God’s own self into each of us. Where we are, God is. So, as God is with your family in your home, at work, at school and in the neighborhood, God is with your family on vacation. In fact, God, who rested on the seventh day, is delighted when you take a vacation. Now, to stretch your awareness of God’s presence in new ways and new places, consider some of these suggestions:
- Find a way to attend Sunday Mass wherever you are. This may take some research, or just some asking questions when you get there, but definitely find a local church, perhaps the cathedral in a larger city, or a Mass scheduled at a shrine. Attending Mass while away from home refreshes your worship and expands your view of the universal church. My husband and I find such beauty in churches large and small on our travels. The religious art and architecture inspires us, and the friendliness of the local folks gives us a sense of our interconnectedness with the human family. Find out about other sacred spaces in the areas you visit such shrines, e.g., Native American burial mounds, cemeteries, monasteries, convents, labyrinths, outdoor statues, etc. where visitors are welcome.
- Hike, bike, walk, run, swim, golf, visit gardens and look for critters and birds. God is so close in nature. The beauty and peace of being outside, for even a little while every day on your vacation, puts you back into the right relationship with God’s creation. It is a body-mind-spirit tonic that counter-balances all the time we spend in front of computers, TVs and engaged with electronic devices. In fact, fasting from all these devices is a good ground rule for vacation, so you can truly be refreshed and renewed.
- How do we practice Christian virtues while on vacation? Love your neighbor! That means give some other family your spot in line, offer to take a group picture for others so all their group can be included, pick up trash at the wayside, be courteous on the road, be quiet and respectful in your hotel or campsite and say thank you to all those who are serving you at restaurants, travel sites, state parks, etc. They work hard so that your family can have an enjoyable time. Do you have extra coupons and discounts that you didn’t have time to use? Give them to another family in the hotel lobby or leave them on the desk in the hotel room for the next occupant. Be good stewards of resources. Be mindful of water and electricity use in your hotel or lodge, just as you would at home. Reuse your towels and don’t waste food by overloading your plate at the buffet.
- Remember bedtime and meal prayers while on vacation. Grace can be said quietly and reverently, even at McDonald’s. The rosary is a great family prayer for a road trip.
- Finally, at right is a travel prayer my husband and I have come to love. It was given to us by our kind partner on the parish prayer network. (author unknown)
(Christ is a consultant in ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The married mother of four young adult children, she gives talks and workshops, leads retreats and is a spiritual director. Christ self-publishes materials for parishes and is the author of “Journeying with Mark,” “Journeying with Luke” and “Journeying with Matthew.” Published by Paulist Press, the books are intended to be used by families in the car on the way to Mass.)