This article should have posted last Saturday; my apologies that it did not. If it had (and yes, it has been recently edited), it would have said I was going on a vacation of sorts, a holiday as the British call it. People usually take a vacation to relax; mine was to assist an ailing family member. Due to ongoing construction, the sick family member, and my own procrastination as well as the inevitable variances of cyberspace, the post did not publish. The material is valid, though, so with some editing, it is finally being seen. Thank you for reading it.
The word vacation comes to us from an old French word “vacacion” which literally meant “vacant position”. Appearing in the late fourteenth century, the vacancy to which it referred quickly came to mean freedom from obligation or release. I am not certain those who have a vacant position in their business or who have a vacant position on the current job status section of their resume approach the “vacacion” as eagerly as those who are on “vacation” but the two have come to mean the same.
Vacations are very popular and since life in the late fourteenth century was much harder than it is for many of us today, you might have thought that the word would have continued to mean the current definition we know today – a vacation is that period of time in which we are free from our obligations, or a period of fun and frolic. I mean, why would anyone want to change that definition, right?
In the short space of about twenty years, though, the word’s meaning did change. BY the early fifteenth century the British were defining a vacation as a “state of being unoccupied”, the “process of vacating”, or the legal definition which was a ” state of being unoccupied
In the United States summer is the time for vacations. The entire country of France takes August off for a vacation and the timeframe is popular throughout other countries as well. This is, quite succinctly, vacation season. The shorts and swim suits are donned, flip flops become the footwear de jour (Don’t forget to donate your flip flops per Pentecost 15’s post), and beach towels replace bulky jackets and winter coats.
As I mentioned, my vacation was to assist with the recovery of a family member who was undergoing surgery. My family member, a four-legged Romeo canine who has stolen my heart ever since I was asked to adopt him as a rescue puppy of five weeks old, did indeed have the surgery and we are now slowly and very laboriously recuperating at home. Like many vacations, we hit a few snags but overall optimism still reigns.
Anyone having a vacation this past week in the States probably encountered inclement weather. The southwest experienced wild fires and/or flooding while the eastern side of the country felt the wrath of Tropical Storm Colin. Atlantic Coast vacations became periods of playing cards and charades indoors instead of surfing and splashing competitions. Such is often the way of the vacation.
Those of us able to take a vacation, even when plans go awry, should still feel happy we were able to schedule one. We have literally been free from the obligations of our daily living. Perhaps the fifteenth century British augmentation to the definition of vacation makes sense after all.
Vacations can be a glorious thing but what about the daily vacations we take from our faith and spirituality? What about those brief vacation moments in which we give in to ego instead of charity? In those moments we are in a “state of being unoccupied” from that which we profess to believe and, usually, that which we expect from others.
There can be no vacations from our moral compass and beliefs. We have to live them every second of every day. Please reread those last two sentences over and over again. Then put them into action. Yesterday an attack supposedly based upon religion was carried out in Tel Aviv. Because of that, many Palestinians will be unable to make their Ramadan journey of faith. The attack was not religion-based nor in keeping with the Quran. Yet, many will lose sight of that and blame the religion instead of the perpetrators.
We cannot allow any single event or war to let us vacate our beliefs. In such times we need them more than ever. My canine’s operation went smoothly but the first eighteen hours did not and we are still in a troubling period of recovery. I could become angry and fearful, taking a vacation from the doctrine that guides my living, or I could rely on said doctrine and go forward in faith. It is not easy but I simply cannot and should not vacate my soul’s being.
At such times when it seems that everything is going haywire, we cannot vacate, we cannot allow fear to direct us into a “state of being unoccupied” of thought and the wisdom of our beliefs. By all means take a vacation of fun but please, remember to pack your beliefs and use them.