This Article was published on thesheepdip this month (May 07):
We’re all going on a… Summer Holiday
Holidays. Cliff was right; not a bad idea, overall. You spend the majority of the year ‘finding windows’ you can squeeze your work, family, friends and church into. You long to pull the plug on your laptop/oven, arrange to swap your place on the church coffee/crèche rota, and escape; ‘No more working for a week or two’.
We’re all entitled to take a break from our insane busy-ness; from being ‘on call’ for our boss or kids. But what about taking a break from God? “A break from God?!? you cry! “Don’t be absurd?. Yes, it is absurd. However, many of us can ‘walk the talk’ when it suits us, and jack it in when we feel it’s ‘our time’. We’ve earned this holiday – we’re going to do what we want, when we want and how we want.
Perhaps the above has been over-stated to make a point, but it’s worth considering, nevertheless. Granted, few of us actually opt to stop praying or reading our bible when we go on holiday. But what about loving others? Every day we all make decisions that effect others; the way in which we treat the ones we meet and know… the way in which our lives impact on those we’ve never met and don’t know, in developing countries. Holidays are no exception.
This article is not intended to ruin the plans and dreams of our annual holiday – far from it! The word ‘holiday’ is based on the words ‘holy’ and ‘day’, as ‘holidays’ originally represented the celebration of special religious days. It’s very likely that God loves the fact that we choose to celebrate ‘taking a break’ or ‘having special time together with friends, or as a couple or family’. No doubt He celebrates our ‘Fun and laughter on our summer holiday’.
With this in mind, here are some issues for consideration:
The less we travel the less carbon emissions we’ll produce, so we need to holiday as local as possible. The UK is a fantastic place! Let’s not waste a large chunk of our annual salary on our holiday – it’s just not necessary. Select a cheaper holiday, giving the money ‘saved’ to those who really need it, locally or in developing nations. We could consider swapping our house for someone else’s for the cheapest holiday ever (google to find ‘Christian Home Exchange Fellowship’ or ‘Christian House Swap UK’). Caravanning and camping come a close second.
To reduce our carbon footprint, it’s advisable to chose a destination with plenty of choice for foot, cycle, bus or rail. Check out options to buy local food and drink. Look out for food festivals and farmers markets. If we are considering staying in a hotel/Bed and Breakfast, ask them if they serve local and fairly traded food. Don’t shy away from asking them other questions about their environmental policy. If they don’t have one… back to the drawing board! Look for accommodation and attractions that are members of the ‘Green Tourism Business Scheme’ or if they are a caravan or touring park the ‘David Bellamy Award’ – they have made a commitment to becoming as green as possible and have to pass stringent criteria for them to be classed as an environmentally friendly business.
When it comes to planning, it might be best to ‘DIY’, but if you do opt for a holiday operator, ask them if they have an ethical policy. Are they committed to reducing waste and water use, and to minimising damage to wildlife and marine environments? If you’re aiming to holiday abroad with them, do they use local staff and, wherever possible, locally sourced produce? Do they pay fair wages to their local staff?
Lets’ make sure our cars are fully serviced and find out how to drive them at optimum efficiency – this will reduce carbon emissions. If they run on LPG, even better! The single most effective decision we can take to reduce our impact on the climate is not to fly. If we can’t resist it, consider offsetting flights (see www.climatecare.org) but be aware that it would still be far far better, and more loving towards humanity, not to fly at all. Minimise flying time and stopovers – the worst carbon emissions are emitted during take off and landing.
Although intended for pleasure and relaxation, holidays can sometimes prove to be more stressful than anticipated. Have a chat with your friends/partner/family before setting off. What can be done to reduce potential stressful situations on this holiday? For example, if long car journeys drive your small kids crazy, look at where you can make stops en route – plan to make them fun if possible!
Enjoying the sunshine is such a treat, but let’s not worship it, or let our kids worship it; inviting skin cancer into our or their bodies is not very honouring to the God who created them. Likewise, let’s enjoy our holiday food, but avoid overeating; this saves money and stops us from getting fat and ill.
If possible, why not visit a church in the area you’re holidaying in? It might be of a different denomination to yours, but who cares? Go crazy! See what God has to say to you through different people, rituals and songs… perhaps even a different language!
Consider taking longer to plan for your holiday this year to enable you to incorporate some of the above; pray for wisdom – you’ll need it. And, if it’s a beach holiday you’re after, sneak in a few prayers for sunshine. Then you can sing along with the confidence of Cliff: ‘We’re going where the sun shines brightly, we’re going where the sea is blue…’!