Get out and enjoy the holiday season

Chaplain’s CornerPadre Jonczyk

Padre Zibby Jonczyk

What do you desire?

In the last few years my wife and I have enjoyed watching Netflix series together. We will pick one and watch a few episodes on the weekends or occasionally in the evenings after work. It gives us the opportunity to unwind, laugh together and sometimes discuss some very interesting topics.

The latest of those series was called Lucifer, the story of THAT fallen angel, who being bored in hell, decides to take extended holidays in Los Angeles. Lucifer is a club owner whose luck, or his Father as he claims, brings him together with LAPD detective Chloe. He ends up scoring a job in the police department as a consultant thanks to a very special gift: his ability to get people to confess their most secret desires.

I wonder what people might desire these days? Money, power, happiness, love, fame, a nice job, good health?

Since the summer started – even though it did not necessarily look or feel like summer these past few weeks – I noticed that there has been fewer people at the Chapel, during the last Sunday services, and fewer cars parked in front of some of the buildings at 4 Wing. One can only hope that the reduced number of cars may be due to a positive response to the Wing Commander’s Wellness Challenge of walking, biking or running to work! But one can most likely bet that the dwindling number of people around the wing is probably due to that time of the year: vacation season!

I am not sure about you, but I think that if I were to meet Lucifer today and he would ask me his favourite question: “What do you truly desire?”, my answer would be “holidays” and a bowl of ice cream, please. After a long winter, I just need a break from my daily routine, all the rush and business. And I am probably not the only one; everybody needs time to catch their breath, to stop for a quiet moment and be able to just rest and relax.

But is that even possible? We live our busy lives under constant stress, juggling home and work responsibilities while trying to retain our sanity. Some are working even from home, slaves of their mobile phones, the little devilish thing that keeps us working even when our 8-5 job is (supposed to be) over. So perhaps today, more than ever before, the need for vacation is pressing: a “downtime” to forget the “must do” things of life, a time to do what makes us happy, to share time with the people we love, to create new memories.

We need vacation time to renew our energy and regain our strength. Going on holidays might take different forms and some of us will go to the mountains or to the lake, while others might prefer all that a big city has to offer. But how many of us, after coming back from our holiday, will feel like we are in need of another day or two to rest before going back to work? That is why retreats that aim at full relaxation, without access to cellphones and internet, have become quite a popular form of holidays: people seem to be in need of mindful rest. A few months ago I spoke with someone who runs such a retreat place in the Rockies and she told me that her place is booked a year in advance.

Not surprisingly, people will pay to have their cellphones taken away and a room without WiFi. It is not enough not to be at work. It is also necessary to disconnect in order to truly rest.

In Alberta, there are several renewal and retreat centers where it is possible to disconnect. Places where one can find silence and the perfect opportunity to pray and meditate, to rest physically, mentally and spiritually. During those retreats one can connect to oneself, one’s family, and perhaps even to God.

So, pause for a moment, listen to yourself, and if you are really in need of some “me” time, just do it; find a place where you can disconnect from your daily routine and connect to what you need, be it nature, yourself or God. Fill your leave pass, pack your camping gear and go for a road trip. No matter what you do, or the weather outside; rain or shine, have fun in the company of your loved ones. It is vacation season: so get out and enjoy!

zbigniew.jonczyk@forces.gc.ca