Surprising as it may be, I’ve actually never had a real vacation. I’ve gone on vacation, of course, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about me and the family deciding for ourselves to go somewhere and do something on our own time and our own dime. Not this stay at home, or go to a reunion, or wedding, or… well you know. A real vacation that is driven by me and my family to go and do what we want to do.
I finally corrected that lacking this last week. We went up to Idaho to visit some very good friends for four days. To call it relaxing would be an understatement. I needed that. It helps, of course, that these are two of our best friends, and people we’ll hopefully have life-long relationships with.
They live in a small town outside of Rexburg, Idaho with a view of the Grand Tetons in the distance. To call the area pretty would be a disservice. It was spectacular. Amazing. Breathtaking. Beautiful. Fulfilling. I could do that. I don’t mind my urban lifestyle, but I crave the rural, the empty, the quiet. There’s nothing quite like falling asleep to the sound of a thresher or a baler. I admit that not everyone would enjoy that, but me?
It’s a lifestyle that calls to me.
On the way up, we drove through the farm country outside Pocatello, and I turned to Courtney to whimper about being a farmer. She said I could. Now if only we could figure out a way to actually do it. 🙂
I learned a few things on this vacation. First, I learned how blessed I am. I’ve watched these friends go through times of famine (not true hunger of course, but rather the “what the crud are we doing with our lives” style of famine), and I’m seeing them now. They have achieved everything they ever wanted, got it at the right price and at the right time. It’s a lesson in patience for me, but it’s also an experience in recognizing what I have.
Second, I learned that I have much to do to improve. Driving home with everyone else asleep through those desolately empty southern Idaho plains, I pondered a lot on the nature of my relationship with God and life in general. I listened to the scriptures on CD, and paid close attention to the life of Nephi in the Book of Helaman. I was impressed by the difficulty he faced and his forthright and stalwart obedience through it all. In a way, these are my Idaho friends. And I want to be like that. More faithful, more obedient, more willing to trust despite what my mind tells me.
Coming back to the hustle and bustle of my urban life, I find myself looking for the small safe places I do have. There is plenty of security right here, and though I have to look for it, the third thing I learned is that I do need that. I need the presence of safety.
Fourth, and this one is random, I realized how much I love to fly. While driving, we passed the local Air Force base, and I watched a pair of KC-135s running Touch and Goes–where they come in, briefly land, take off again, and circle around to repeat the training. My dad flew KC-135s for many years, and I cannot think of a more beautiful sight than a KC-135 in flight. As we marveled at the stunning miracle of flight, I pronounced it an “amazing sight.” Courtney said it was “incredible.” Katherine called it “awesome.” Myron, after we had all had our say, looked at the plane soaring above us and confidently shouted, “It’s a chicken!”
I love my kids. I love my wife. On the way home from a brief grocery trip last night, Katherine asked us what happens when we die. We explained that our bodies stay here and our spirits go to Heavenly Father. “And then what happens?” Well, if we are good, we get to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus and our families forever. If we’re bad, we will have to repent of our sins and when that is done, we’ll get our own kingdom of glory, but not with Heavenly Father, Jesus, and our Families. “And then what happens?” Well, we get to have our families forever, we’ll keep growing, and eventually we’ll become like God.
“But will I live again?”
“Do I get to see you and mommy?”
I could not imagine what I, as a father, would have ever answered without the light of the gospel. What a treasure it is in my mind that I could confidently look her in the eye and say, “Yes, you will live again, and Yes, you will see me and mommy. And we will see you.” She’s six. A very smart and beautiful six. And that’s the last thing I learned on my vacation. Family isn’t just here and now. It’s there, too. And if it matters here, won’t it matter there? I certainly want it to.
After all, without family, how would I have ever learned to see one of the most majestic of all planes as an ungainly chicken soaring through the air?