great escape

I took a whirlwind tour this weekend: Ireland, Italy, Greece, France, and Spain! Sometimes you just need to get away. This was one of those times. An around-the-world movie tour is a great escape, on the cheap.

It’s been cloudy and gray in the No Co; snow, snow, and more snow. I dug through the DVD collection and pulled out those that could carry me elsewhere. Under the Tuscan Sun. When In Rome. My Life in Ruins. French Kiss. P.S. I Love You. Leap Year. Maybe also Chocolat. Where is our copy of Waking Ned Divine? I set Dancing at Lughnasa off to the side, for a mellow turn. I add My Big Fat Greek Wedding in just for fun. The Way will be my closer, whenever time runs out.

It’s a bit of a thrill to watch a movie with a familiar but far-away setting. I love to recall the sounds, smells, and tastes, the faces and architecture, the light and the heat of a distant place as I’ve known it. The more I travel the more I want to experience. My bucket list doesn’t seem to diminish much — another goes on for every one that comes off. But Ireland is nudging toward the top. And I want more of those others!

***

Today was the first Sunday of the New Year. I was feeling quite virtuous, getting out in the cold and snow. We are less than a year back into a regular Sunday morning routine. It’s all too easy to think I’m doing something special by showing up.

One pastor was speaking the first in a series of stewardship. She noted that we need to regularly quiet our hearts before God. He wants quality time, opportunities to speak to us. The other pastor noted that we have had a bit of a break for the holidays. It’s time to get back at it, he said. Time to regroup, to regain our focus on ministering in the community. It’s a tough balance, quiet versus busy, and an important distinction, busy versus invested. But I get it.

Yet I was sitting there thinking, God, I’m not entirely sure what my role is here. It seems my plate is pretty full? I’m in over my head at work. I’m dealing with quite a bit in personal relationships. I’m worn out with all of that, actually. I’m feeling quite weary of people. (Thus the great escape this weekend!) I think I’m doing what I can? I’m not sure what more I have to give. What more do you want from me? I need to hear from you.

And then, tap, tap. A light finger on my shoulder. “Did that fall out of your coat?” I turned to look and my face turned a dozen shades of red. Yes, indeed. That is my unmentionable laying on the floor! I’d recognize that nondescript beige utility apparel anywhere. It must have dropped out from the hood of my puffy down jacket. I’m just glad it wasn’t dangling along behind me as I walked the trail yesterday, during that one brief interlude of sunshine. At least, I hope it didn’t!

I quickly scooped it up and stuffed it in my coat pocket. And then I started to laugh. I couldn’t help but laugh! How ridiculous! I was barely stifling my chuckles all the way through the service. For hours afterwards, every time I thought about it, I was struck with another fit of giggles.

Well, if that wasn’t a reality check I don’t know what is. The truth is that I’m only a half-step from making a spectacle of myself at any point in time. I can’t help it. I’m only human. God help me from taking myself too seriously!

What more do I have to give? Whatever he asks of me today. And again tomorrow! Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, eh? Or too far away.

~René Morley

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