Wandering Wonderings . . .

len_webBack to the Future: Can Family Vacations Help Vocation Formation?

Or – How Can We Recognize the Difference Between “Tourist” and “Pilgrim”?

Since we officially moved into the season of fall this past Monday, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on summer, with an eye toward the future…

Last June, in my first blog post, I raised questions and posted a prayer-poem about the difference between being a “Tourist or Pilgrim.” (Click on the link to take a look!)

In July and August, my wife Beka and I went on what I thought of as a Pilgrimage across the Atlantic. We used our frequent flyer miles to go back to Europe where we had been 30 years earlier. (Just 5 days after Beka had graduated from Hendrix College, we bought 2, one-way tickets from New York to Brussels for $150!) But we were not just going back to some of the places we had been (though one highlight was when we were able to visit old friends at the Methodist Church community near Tubingen, Germany where we had lived for several months.) This time. however, we brought our 13 & 14 year old daughters for a big “European Family Road Trip.” I also brought some vague hopes that this shared-experience could help launch our girls into adolescence with some sense of “pilgrimhood.” (Again, you can see the “Tourist of Pilgrim” poem thru the link above.)

Needless to say, it was a very different experience than our journey 30 years ago. There were many delightful moments, (and I’ll post a few pictures below.) But some moments weren’t pretty (and I won’t post pictures below!) Some of the struggles seemed to be at least partly influenced by a kind of “technology withdrawal.” Since I’d been reading Parker Palmer’s Hidden Wholeness, with it’s emphasis on “joining role and soul,” I kept wondering what might help us 1) honor each other’s solitude and 2) be together as family/community along the way… parents and teenagers co-existing on the road… living in a camper together for over 2 weeks…?

I’m not sure I found any clear answers. But some questions, particularly related to technology, kept emerging and followed me back to Fort Worth. “How do we find a good balance in our current technology/mass-media saturated culture?” “Do we need Sabbath-like time of “cold turkey?” “In our faith journey back home, how do we discern between what helps us be soulful-pilgrims trying to faithfully follow our vocation…and what distracts us into being numb “tourists”, looking for the next “vacation-as-escape” from our pain and boredom?” And particularly as a community, “How do we, as faithful parents, grandparents, “aunts,” and “uncles”, pay attention to and support one another in caring for the souls around us… especially the children and adolescents… and especially as it relates to the use or misuse of technologies?”

No easy answers here, but we at least need to be exploring together some of the important questions…

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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