Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vacation in the Middle of Lent

...I used to give a play by play of my vacations as they were happening, under the misguided impression that everyone was fascinated by what I was doing and what I was thinking while I was doing it.

Lately, I have realized that this is probably not the case. And, to be truthful, we do about the same thing every year when we go to Arizona.

The only thing different this year was that we visited Arizona in March, smack dab in the middle of Lent.

I'll be truthful, this was a nice break, but it also made me a little nervous, because Lent just doesn't stop because I went away. Holy week is still the same number of weeks away.

I had hoped that the desert would be blooming here, but it is not quite so. There were a few buds, but no blooms yet. I have seen the desert bloom, but it was long ago, and it is barely in my memory now. However, there were many blooming wildflowers at the Botanical gardens, and the butterfly garden was open also. This is not the case in January.

One of our first days on vacation, we ended up at an unexpected place: The Scottsdale Fashion Mall. We were there searching for a pair of pants for my husband. We weren't sure he had enough warm clothes for our overnight trip to the mountains. So we were wandering around through these ritzy stores. Even for one familiar with the Grand Canyon of Malls, which exists in my state, the Scottsdale Fashion Mall is something special, in a wretched-excess sort of way. For example, there is not a Sears store in the Scottsdale Fashion Mall.

So we were wandering around the Fashion Mall, and I was looking in store windows (often a big mistake), and I suddenly realized that I was wanting things. I was wanting things that I did not even know existed an hour before that. I was wanting a pair of really good-looking tennis shoes, for example, that I was sure would make me run faster, jump higher and instantly be healthier and thinner. I was wanting a pretty brightly-colored purse, some fashionable sunglasses, earrings.

I thought, when I didn't know these things existed, I didn't want them. I don't think I need a bicycle until I see someone riding one. I think I need a cell phone because I keep seeing people all around me, flipping theirs open and talking. Suddenly I feel lonely. There must be someone I need to talk to, I need to connect to.

I came to the desert during Lent this year. I spent a week's vacation in the wilderness. But I am not sure where the wilderness really is any more: is it really in those barren places where I am tempted, or is in the places where there is so much I see, so much I didn't realize that I wanted?

Or maybe the wilderness is really within me?

"I will make a way in the wilderness...."


DogBlogger said...

Oh, your last sentence... worth thinking upon for a long, long time.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Maybe in the "wilderness" we actually think about the temptations and in the "hustle and bustle" we don't need to think much at all, and that is what "they" want of us.

Juniper said...

This is is good stuff - thanks. Just heard a speech from a cameroonian woman who said that in her country there is never enough, and everyone is starving and here we are cursed with too much. same idea. It's like the stuff becomesa burden....

Mompriest said...

I always found that amusing, the designer wear and posh spas in the middle of a desert. Not an oasis but yet another demand on our senses and sensibility. Still, much to ponder on a Lenten journey. I've appreciated my Lenten retreates - but I've ony gone away for a few days to a retreat center - but I really understand what you mean about Lent moving on and Holy Week coming even in the midst of an effort to take a break. Hope you enjoyed it. I expect the desert will be in beautiful bloom this year, in early April!