Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Summer Staycation Reflections

This summer was different for our family. We didn't go anywhere.  And that was just fine for us.

In the past five years I have been keeping this blog, we have been to Toronto twice, Hawaii, England and France, and for variety, a lovely summer trip to Tennessee and Alabama.  Sheesh.  But this year, save for a brief trip to Chicago to help Older Daughter move into her college apartment (post coming soon), we stayed home.  That was just fine for us.  

Chalk it up the effects of the Bush/Obama/NINJA Loan aftermath summer of America's discontent.  The Recession that Will Never Go Away.  With one daughter in University and another in private high school, our summer plans were compacted to the not-even-close-to-purgatory of our own back yard.  A pool, a puppy, and friends and family, that is all you need to get away from it all.

And when folks are blessed as we are by good friends and loving family, a summer at home can serve as a wonderful chance to reconnect, and deepen friendships and family bonds.  Strangely enough, we ended up doing what folks used to do years ago in the summer, before the advent of jet travel and resort destinations.  We played together in the pool, or over board games after dinner (yes, I admit, I am not a lover of after dinner board games!), we laughed, we caught up on life.  We sat in the gathering twilight and talked.  For hours.  Just like 200 years ago.

June was graced by the visit of our one time house guest, now dear family friend Jill, who is a pastor in Austin, Texas.  Long dinners on the back porch, great conversation, and a couple of visits to In N' Out made for a wonderful time with a treasured friend.  A seminary student in a baseball cap on our front porch who turned into someone so close to our hearts.
July was a bit more quiet, but featured a visit to one of the most special concert venues in the world - The Hollywood Bowl.  Twilight, a picnic dinner of simple things, a bottle of wine, and friends together.  These are the things that last.  July was particularly slow at the office; the slowest month in a decade, and in my poorer moments, I let it get the better of me.  But recovery to the economy is coming, albeit at the speed of continental drift.  The future looks hopeful, and we are all still employed.  Again, thankful.

July was also the month of travel, for some, as Younger Daughter went off to Albania, and met people who changed her life and her heart.  My lovely wife spent a week in Arizona with teen moms, serving with Young Life - one of our favorite things on the planet.  Older Daughter and I stayed home, stayed employed (she as a children's swim instructor at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center), and kept the puppy (mostly) out of trouble.  Somebody has to hold down the fort.

August was the month of Atkins.  From Kitchener - Waterloo, Ontario, the visiting in-laws joyously came.  Five strong, and not a dull moment for 12 days of Southern California fun.  Hollywood, San Diego, the beach, back to the Hollywood Bowl again.  Three cousins, from 8 to 13 in age, and more fun than, well, a barrel full of Canadian monkeys.  Relations between our two nations were significantly enhanced.  My favorite part of the day was being able to come home and jump in the pool with Tim Man - 8 years old.  Mr. Tim, they call him, the only male Atkins progeny.   We invented a modified version of water polo and pool hockey that will soon sweep all of North America.  Look for it, soon on ESPN.

And in the background of all this blessing, there has been a new sound track to this Summer of 2010.  Mumford and Sons, from Great Britain.  Remarkable music from a collection of college friends - and lyrics that leaving you thinking for days.  See below.

Our wish is that your summer had some moments like these, the kind that get frozen in time in your memory.  These are the moments that make us smile, and remind us that we are indeed not alone, that we are loved, and created to love others.  If its only sharing a meal, laughing together, listening to beautiful music, or splashing in the water, we have purpose.  Together.

Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don’t leave me alone at this time,
For I'm afraid of what I will discover inside

Cause you told me that I would find a hole,
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal,
And all the while my character it steals

Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see

It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive with the restart

Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I've seen

Stars hide your fires,
These here are my desires
And I won't give them up to you this time around
And so, I’ll be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

But you, you’ve gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine
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