What I Did on My Summer Vacation

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Words, Dogs and Baseball

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Summers lease hath too short a date.”  Willie Shakespeare

There are several ways to look at my summer. One could say that I worked all summer. Then again, one could say that I did not work a single day this summer. Is doing what you love “work” or “play”?  Or why label it at all? If you are engaged in doing what you believe God has called you to do, and what brings you joy, I’d say every day is a holiday!  It’s summer all year long.

But here’s what I learned, or at least, what I was reminded of over the summer:

  1. Share what you know. I know something about the sacred island of Molokai. I know something about the powerful ministry of Father Damien and Mother Marianne. I have come to know some extraordinary people on the island who have many important values to convey regarding Hawaiian culture and spiritually – they are people who live aloha. So taking another group on the Molokai pilgrimage in June was truly special. It reminds me that pilgrimage- walking our prayers and traveling to sacred spaces, being open and grateful – matters. It enriches and inspires those who participate. Because I know this special place and these amazing people, it is one my life’s greatest blessings to share this unusual pilgrimage with others.
  2. Offer the gift you have been given. People tell me I’m a writer. Although I am my own worst critic, it has been a tremendous gift to be able to write books and share them with the world. I think I enjoy crafting stories and letting spiritual lessons emerge from them more than anything else in the world (that does not involve a cheese enchilada). I have a fairly unique style (spirituality with a sense of humor) so maybe what I have to say (write) matters – at least to some people. So I buckled down and wrote almost every day from July 3rd – August 29. I had a routine and I stuck with it – up every day at 4:30 a.m., walked dogs at 5:30, read and had prayers at 7:00, started writing at 8:00. Oh, and watched the Astros play baseball every night (thank you FUBO!) I have lots of book ideas, but the one that was most on my heart is a book about my beloved dog, Nawiliwili Nelson, and our Last Howlelujah Tour that we shared. That trip was likely the most amazing two and a half weeks of my life – so many memories made. I can’t wait to share this new book with you.
  3. Chillin’ is not a waste of time, especially among friends. One of the philosophers I read this summer was John Lubbock. He wrote:  “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”  Amen to that. Several times I had good friends stop by Covington on their summer travels. You better believe I took time to join them for dinner and a refreshing beverage. While in Mexico officiating a wedding and a beach-side Sunday service, some friends “kidnapped” me on Sunday afternoon and “made” me hang out with them at their hotel’s swim-up pool bar. A priest has gotta dot what a priest has gotta do. Productive? Depends on how you define that. I met some great people and had a wonderful afternoon of doing nothing. Then right at the end of my time “off”, I attended a concert at Red Rocks just outside of Denver. I had always wanted to go to a concert there and it was my reward to myself for finishing the new book. Plus – no humidity! The Sabbath principle matters – even God took a day off and rested.”
  4. I get by with a little help from my friends. I could not have taken time away from most of my church duties to focus on writing without my amazing clergy companion Morgan. She is awesome and I know my people are in great hands when I am away. I am so grateful that God sent her to us and we figured out a way to bring her onboard. What a blessing she has been!  I also could not have done the Chicago baseball pilgrimage without Herb Carver. He works tirelessly on details so that others can have a stress-free experience at some of the sacred sites of this particular sport – namely Wrigley Field. I met Herb in India and we have become great friends. I am so glad that God has brought him into my life. I can’t wait to see what future partnerships we share. As I wrote the new book, so many people I have encountered along the way made it in to various stories. Their stories have enriched my life and have made all the difference. I am grateful for each one of them. Of course, here I must also mention my best friends – my dogs Sinbad, Lili, Mano and Waylon. They are faithful companions who walked me each morning to make sure I got my exercise, and made sure I did not overeat this summer by volunteering to eat half of each of my meals. They were also of great comfort each evening on the couch, whether the Astros won or lost, regardless of how many times I yelled at my IPad. Take time for your friends. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Give thanks to God for bringing them into your life.

It was a great summer. I can’t wait to see what God is gonna do this fall!