This is the time of year when, travel experts tell us, the vast majority of us take our vacations. More people will hit the road, stand in line at airports, or hop a bus during these two and half months than at all the other times of the year combined. A bunch of us will head home - wherever that is and however that is defined - to spend our down time with extended family. Another huge group will head to a handful of “most popular” tourist destinations - Orlando, Florida being at the top of the world-wide pile. For some, summer vacation is hiking in and camping out beside a virgin stream that only they and a couple hundred other people have ever seen. For others, a four star hotel with gourmet cuisine is the ticket to relaxation and restoration.
Regardless of where we end up, most of us are ready to come home when it is over - but not necessarily ready to go back to work. We return wondering about the old adage that a change is as good as a rest - and are convinced that something got lost in the translation. Vacations, we discover, are hard work! At least the way most of us do them. They may involve some resting - but by far the majority of us pack so much activity into our annual average thirteen days that they bulge at the seams - just like the suitcases that allow us to take it all with us wherever we go! Perhaps if we were more like our neighbors to the north, with twice as many annual vacation days, we would come back more rested. Two weeks seems to be just enough time to get somewhere and come back - but not enough time to recuperate from the going and coming! Of course, if we imitated the Italians, with an annual average (average!) of forty-six days, we might never get back to work - but that is another story entirely.
In all of this, it is probably worthwhile to be reminded that vacations and days off are, like most good things, God's idea. In fact, so important does He think these kinds of things are, that He built them into the cycle of creation and highlighted them in the Ten Words that outlined the joyous life of His people. Much of the third book of the Bible deals with holy days and festivals with their communal celebration of life well-lived under God. How we got from there to Orlando, I am not sure, but the story might help us understand why many of us have holidaze rather than holy days.