Sunday, July 15, 2007

Vacation: "A Gift Of God"

Pope Benedict XVI is on vacation. He is staying at Lorenzago di Cadore in Italy's mountainous northeast.

It may seem odd that somebody like the Pope would take a vacation; the common perception is that he just sits around in his big robes all day composing various edicts and meeting with withered old nuns.

But here are the words he delivered to visitors at the Vatican about a week ago, just prior to his departure:

The mountain air will do me good and I shall be able - I hope so - to dedicate myself more freely to reflection and prayer. I hope everyone, especially those in greatest need, will be able to take a bit of vacation to restore their physical and spiritual energy and recover a healthy contact with nature. The mountains call to mind in particular the spirit's ascent towards the heavens, its uplifting towards the "high standard" of our humanity, which daily life unfortunately tends to debase.

My own vacation spot, by contrast, does not naturally call one's spirit to great heights. But here in the beautiful horizontality of Canada's prairies I truly feel more connected with the divine. For I stand erect in contrast with the surrounding landscape, and am not obscured by skyscrapers and cell phone towers. Not that I am able to hide from God in the city, but the busy pace of "normal" life is so fraught with distraction and chaos that to find myself challenged only by trees for a place in the heavens is a refreshing perspective. Here I find that my human nature is free to be glorious, and to declare the wonders of God to the world around me.

I will try to live out the Pope's challenge on my vacation: to dedicate more time to reflection and prayer. As the activities of family camp this week begin to pick up and my kids become preoccupied with new friends, I can see the time starting to open up.

Lord, grant me a real time of refreshment here which draws me closer to your side.

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