As a child, I looked forward like most other children to summer vacation. Although I appreciated school as the foundation for my socialization, summer provided far more opportunities to meet new people in experiences through the Boys and Girls Club, friends in my neighborhood who’d have cousins from distant places to visit and the opportunity to travel, especially due to the graciousness of my Aunt Milleye and my Uncle Leonard. Since being conditioned with the expectation to be away from learning from mid June until the Wednesday following Labor Day, I’ve had an unusually difficult time remaining focused to work during the summer. This year, I elected to expand my typically one week away to two weeks, based upon the prompting of my colleagues at work. I’m not sure if they wanted me gone, felt I really needed a vacation, or a combination of both – but at any rate, I followed their advice, and I’m oh so glad I did. So, as I write with a bit of anxiety in considering all that awaits my attention at the office in T minus 2 hours, I still can’t hold my excitement about all that I learned about myself and others over the last two weeks; and although not assigned, I can’t help but reflect and share, “What I did on my summer vacation.”
In the beginning, I did nothing – and that was exactly what I needed to do. I know that the Word of God was written in a very different time period, thus we don’t find ourselves immobile on the most sacred day of the week. After attending church services, I am guilty of attending meetings, washing clothes, doing work, running errands, and whatever else is necessary to set myself in a good head space for the work week ahead. Make no mistake, if you’ve known me over the last 30+ years (or possibly less), you know I get a Sunday afternoon nap in, but what I did on my summer vacation was to rekindle a less examined rest in God. Exodus 33:14 reads, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” In all our busy, we can make the mistake and leave God out of the journey with us. Sometimes, I just simply feel that what may be considered my mundane is just not worth God’s attention – and that may be true, but its up to God to make that determination, and not me. We must be intentional about inviting God in on everything. When the post graduate was young and I had a lot of running around to do, she would continue to inquire, “When are we going home?” I was hesitant to answer, because time was limited, and if I said, “after this,” she would hold me accountable. Yet, taking her everywhere, allowed her to witness multiplicity and work ethic and strategy – all characteristics that she is able to practice now. This came as a result of her presence with me. As we take the Lord with us, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:3). So, even as we’re busy, we can attain rest. During my summer vacation, I took the Lord with me not only in my travel, but invited the Lord into the conversations in my spirit, and the internal turmoil that has had me on a spinning wheel, impacting the ability for me to experience clarity. I took heed in Matthew 11:28 where we receive the blessing through the Word of God which reads, “Come to me, all you who are weary and bounded, and I will give you rest.” When you’ve been with God, it shows. Do you recall Moses’ countenance after being with God? It was so bright that he covered his face so that the people could interact with him without being overtaken by the light. Although blessed to have a vacation, the presence of the Lord is not relegated to such time away. We must strive to spend deep time with the Lord daily, casting all our cares upon him, so that the countenance of peace becomes our daily facial to a hurting world. And speaking of hurt, this brings me to the second thing I did on my summer vacation, witnessing the criminalization of Black and brown bodies.
I know I watched in horror, like each of you, the murdering of the men in Louisiana and Minnesota. I’m not sure how I may have reacted had it not been for the presence of God. Like you, my crying morphed into wailing. Its not as though we’ve been immune to this, but something about seeing it through the lens of a camera, enables the ability for it to be replayed countless times, not only on television and on social media, but in our psyche. I felt like I was embodied within a never-ending Jeopardy experience, asking God question after question as to why these atrocities were allowed to take place. The deeper horror that avails itself is the fact that I have a Black son and a Black husband, and a Black brother and a Black brother in law, and Black nephews and Black men who are my friends and therefore family, and my heart aches for the manner by which they are treated and must navigate daily movement as to that of a minefield. I know that faith without works is dead (James 2:17), but the only “works” I could muster up at the time was prayer. I know additional “works” is needed, and God is revealing the role that I can play – but let us not neglect II Chronicles 7:14 as we go about our business. I know prayer may not be the answer for everyone, but as the saying goes, “It works for me!” One of my learners has lived in Baton Rouge all her life, and over the last two weeks, I’ve been in email communication and on conference calls with her and the only thing she continues to ask for is prayer, and so I comply. We never know where our prayers will go or how they may in fact stop something else in the making. The Word of God instructs us to “pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:1). Somethings we don’t have to question – we just do.
Travel is one of the activities that I don’t question, I just do! On my summer vacation, I was blessed to visit my family in Arkansas. I experienced love listening to family conversations, returning down memory lane, attending church with my mom and aunt in a space that will soon celebrate 146 years of standing on the Lord’s side. I also spent time in my family’s garden, witnessing the foundation of my grandfather, who was a sharecropper. The tenets that have grounded our family emulate that of Psalm 103:17, “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children.” Every now and then, we must pause, and reflect on the goodness of the Lord down through the generations. Each time I travel to Arkansas, the home of my mother, I am reminded of just that. When I find myself guilty of falling into the trap of thinking, “ain’t nothing changed,” I have counter truth that eradicates that notion and can truly say, in the words of my Bishop, “God has been good to me and my family.”
After departing from the “natural state,” I had the opportunity to “just do” again and met my college roommate in the Cayman Islands for a few days. My final destination afforded the affirmation of just how beautiful this world is that the Creator manifested through his voice. Without completely blowing my own mind, yet again, just consider the fact that everything as we know it was created by God’s command – through what he spoke (the exception was man and that he touched…that’s a different experience altogether). On my summer vacation, I considered all that I’ve neglected to command, but more importantly, all that I shall command going forward! Proverbs 14:1, tells us, “The wisest of women builds her house.” I learned on my summer vacation that I need to build – and that is not a personal dwelling, but deepened building for the kingdom. All I can say is stay tuned. So there, you have it, “What I dd on my summer vacation.” I’d love to hear what you did (or are doing). Further, I can’t wait to see what happens next…