We do this every year and I feel priveleged, blessed and slightly guilty at the extravagance. But it is really, really helpful for me to get away in the winter and find rest and refreshment. And again this year - I did.
There are so many aspects to this vacation that were memorable. Here are a few:
1. We spent the first 2 days at the Ursuline Guest house in New Orleans and it was really fun to be there. It was charming and on the very edge of the French Quarter. We walked a lot for two days and went to the market to buy gifts for grandchildren, Cafe De Mond and had the requisite beignets and cafe aulait. A street musician entertained us there with his trumpet and played "Just a Closer Walk with God" followed by (Chuck's request" Summertime. During the meals there I had rice and beans, a shrimp Po boy and a muffalata. The best part was that it was Mardi Gras and we saw a parade (mostly drunken people dressed up in funny costumes) and were the recipients of tons of beaded necklaces thrown down to us from revelers in the balcony. To say it was fun is an understatement.
Susan and Ken arrived on Friday and that was such a blessing for me as we had not seen each other for over a year and a half. Saturday morning Susan and I sat in the court opposite her hotel drinking bloody mary's and listening to a wonderful jazz singer.
2. Our companions were a blessing. There were 10 of us who had dinner together every evening and recapped the activities of the day. The Veatches were the youngest this year and clearly the most physically active. The Hockmans enjoyed hours in the casino and the rest of us played cards quite a bit. One of my highlights was watching Susan and Marsha climb the wall - fun to watch friends become friends.
3. Our island forays were fine but not exceptional this year. We went to Jamaica which is always somewhat disturbing with its beauty and its abject poverty. We hired a taxi and literally went from the bottom to the top - both physically and economically. We spent some time in the primitive native craft area that was behind the conventional gift shop. There were over a dozen men and women trying to lure us into their little area to purchase their merchandise. I bought a bracelet and a turtle and a cross for Ken. But it felt so uncomfortable getting away from it all.
Then the driver took us to a "Great House" on the hill with a swimming pool and a spectacular view. It was like a different world from the one we just left.
4. What was most important to me this vacation was the rest. I slept. 8 or 9 hours a night and dreamt every night. And had time to read, write and reflect about everything. The slowing down is what has come to be most meaningful to me in my time away.
A cruise ship offers all kinds of entertainments but I found the best part was sitting on a deck chair looking at the ocean and maybe reading or talking or just being.
Today is the superbowl and all last week, whenever we turned on the TV there was so many stories in preparation. Today - finally - it is going to happen. Good.
But what I look forward to is next week as we begin a new season of the year at church. It is funny to me how I have changed over the years and enjoy different forms of recreation and look forward to different kinds of events.
And so, starting next week - a wonderful meditative Ash Wednesday service, morning devotions in the sanctuary every day and a new Bible study on Wednesday night.
I am home from the cruise, rested and ready for whatever is the new thing that God wants to do with me.