We needed a break.
This year has been..shall we say…challenging. The obvious villain has been the pandemic: Five of our close family members are down with the COVID, or recently recovered. But even for those of us who haven’t caught the bug, it has made an impact: We have all been stuck at home more than ever, as our usual haunts are limited, or shut down. Our go-to places for peace – church and temples- have been off-limits or limited. Work has been challenging, with lots of changes.
As it has been for me, I’m sure many of you have had an especially stressful and challenging year, and it wears on you. Stress and fatigue battle against apathy and irritation, and they all come up winners. Election? That doesn’t help either.
I decided my EC and I needed to take a break, and I figured this time, we should go on a search for peace and beauty – and we did.
Last week found us in a rental car, driving the backroads of New England, enjoying the glory of the Fall foliage. It was wonderful. God surely knew what He was doing when he added those amazing chemical reactions that cause trees to release a fury of gorgeous color before they go dormant.
We drove through parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, most of the time with our mouths hanging open. So much beauty! We would stop whenever we felt like it and go for walks, or take pictures. Even the one rainy day had a different beauty all its own.
After a couple of days, I started to feel a little a little better – then pretty darn good. I wasn’t sure if it was just that I was playing hooky from work and ‘real life,’ or if there was something more to it. So, one night while we were hanging out, I cracked open the laptop and looked.
I immediately found a link to an article in The Guardian from last year: “Two Hour ‘dose’ of nature significantly boosts health – study.”
Researchers basically came to the conclusion that spending time outside can really make a difference in our mental and physical health. I think that is what I was experiencing – in direct contrast with being stuck at home watching too much TV.
They even went on to explain that there is an amount of nature that we have to hit to make a difference in our health: 120 minutes per week. Less than that doesn’t make much of an impact. That works out to only 2 hours a week – and that it can be 20 minutes for six days, or two hours all at once. Doesn’t matter.
One of the scientists suggested, “Most people are under multiple pressures at any given time. So you go away in a natural setting, it is quiet, it is relaxing and it gives you time to start to process things.”
Is it any surprise that the boy prophet Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees to speak to God? Moses went to the wilderness, and to the mountain, as did Christ.
Actually, Jesus was pro-vacation.
Let me set it up for you… In Mark, chapter 6, we read about how Jesus called the twelve Apostles, and sent them forth two-by-two to teach the gospel. They got right after it and taught repentance, cast out devils, and healed the sick – just like the Savior had instructed them. (Mark 6:7, 12-13)
Later, the Apostles and the Savior reunited, and the Apostles told Jesus about all the great things they had been able to do. (Mark 6:30) That’s when Jesus had an idea:
“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert (private) place, and rest for a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” (Mark 6:31)
Private, rest, leisure? Those are vacation words. (Have you ever been so busy that you didn’t have time to eat? Yep, me too.)
So they boarded a boat to go get some peace and quiet, but the people figured out where they were headed, and beat them there. And there were a lot of them. Thousands. But Christ, true to His nature, felt compassion on the crowds and began to teach them.
The Apostles saw their vacation going down the drain, and approached the Savior and said “This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed. Send them away…for they have nothing to eat.” (Mark 6:35-36)
But Christ was merciful and performed a mighty miracle: He fed the five thousand men, not to mention the women and children.
Back to the vacation: He then told the Apostles to get back in the boat and cross over to a different place, while He took care of sending the people back to their homes.
Christ then went up the mountain for some of His own private time, but from the mountain He could see that the Apostles were in trouble – they were struggling, the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, and by now it was after 3:00 in the morning. (I’ve had vacations like that.) Finally, Jesus walked out on the water to help them. The winds ceased when he entered the boat.
When they got to the shore, the crowds returned, and it was back to business. Neither the Savior nor His Apostles got their much needed break. Thankfully, someone thought to record these miraculous thing. We often hear about the feeding of the 5000, and Christ walking on the water – but we never hear it in the context of what they were actually trying to do at the time – take a vacation!
Anyway, getaways in nature are good for my soul. They reinvigorate me. They remind me of how glorious God’s creations can be. They remind me to be grateful ‘for the beauty of the earth.’
Funny how colored leaves can heal a troubled soul. I must also add that the break gave me some peace as I entered into what turned out to be a rather stressful week, this past week.
I am grateful and in awe of the Lord’s kindness. I have included a few pics I took on my phone so you could get an idea.
It is a beautiful world.