Permanent Vacation

At what point does a holiday turn sour?

Of course there are a number of things that can go wrong on a vacation: break downs, injuries, bad weather, etc. But, at least you know it will come to an end.

“Right, we leave for home on the 27th, so let’s look forward to that.”

For an estimated 150,000 Britons this small guarantee has been taken away and even wonderful holiday experiences are long past their “sell by” dates. People are stuck in what must seem like permanent holiday status. I suspect that when they do finally return they will think twice about leaving ever again.

My dear wife and three of my children were scheduled to return from an Easter trip to America last Friday morning when Britain was inundated by volcanic ash spewing from the mouth of an Icelandic volcano. Experts have warned that flying through a cloud of volcanic ash is detrimental to jet engine function and can easily lead to complete engine failure. Not so good when you’re 30,000 feet in the air.

So, for the last six days all air travel into and out of Britain and much of northern Europe has been stopped. Thousands of flights on every airline in the business have simply been cancelled leaving passengers stranded on their Easter holidays.

The maddening thing about the situation is that there is no definite ending point. Because the winds shift and because the volcanic activity is in constant flux no one can say things will resume on the 21st or 22nd or 23rd of April or May or June. Apparently in 1821 the same volcano erupted off and on for over a year. I wonder how air passengers of that day managed?

Because such a backlog has piled up, even when skies clear, as they have this morning, there is simply no way that people can expect to catch the next flight out. There are literally thousands of people hoping to do the same thing and flights are booked, and booked solid.

This morning I read that air travel is once again on the move. The same was said yesterday morning, but then at noon it was stopped again. Naturally, my wife’s flight was scheduled for that little window of open air space. So, instead of flying she spent time at the airport rescheduling once again, this time for a flight ten days hence.

Her holiday has grown from two weeks to three and now to four. The children are missing school, she is cancelling planned activities here in Scotland and all of them are stuck with more time on their hands than they can productively use. The holiday has “gone off” a bit.

I suppose I should be thankful. Her connecting flight from Texas to Newark was never cancelled so she could have easily taken the first step, but that would have left her stranded in a New Jersey hotel instead of with my parents. Who can imagine being stuck in an overpriced airport hotel for an indefinite period of time?

No doubt there are thousands who can tell me from first-hand experience exactly what it is like, many of them at Newark itself.

Friends of ours were on a cruise when things ground to a halt, so they stayed on the boat and to my knowledge are still on the boat, happily sailing the same cruise they just returned from. I wonder if they are having as much fun as the first time? Is a holiday still a holiday when you have to take it?

The good news is that no one has died from this thing. Thousands, perhaps millions have been sorely inconvenienced, but not a single airplane has dropped from the sky. It’s hard to fall when you haven’t climbed.

I’ve enjoyed the time with my three sons here in Scotland, but I miss the other half of the family. The half dozen meals I know how to prepare became a bit dull last week and so I’ve been forced to learn a few more. So far no one is complaining.

I’m trying to be thankful here. I’m trying to remember my scripture lessons and to trust that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes,” (Romans 8:28). I’m trying to remember that this is God’s volcano and that we live and move and have our being in Him in Him alone (Acts 17:28). We exist on His time and at His pleasure and sometimes His plans differ from ours.

Maybe I just needed to learn to cook more. Maybe I needed to feel what it’s like to do all the shopping and all the laundry and all the cleaning? Maybe I needed to find out what it’s like to be a single parent?

Maybe I just needed to learn a bit more faith and contentment?

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