Illustration: There is a line near the beginning of Melville’s Moby Dick that remains with me: “Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for [sic] ever.” This week I took some annual leave. The family and I are in southwest Florida with friends. We have vacationed together many times over the years. Invariably we make memories that resurface later, memories that remind me that joy is wedded to simplicity. Even for folks who would not customarily look upon the sun in a contemplative way, or listen to the waves roll endlessly in and out again, or focus upon the gulls as they ride the winds and land upon their tiny legs as thin as seaweed, and bury their beaks in the sands for food—you see folks sense a reconnection that comes when we unplug and return—in some degree—to simplicity. We seem to sense a life we have largely forfeited. When we look out upon creation, there is no end of detail. I watched the sky last night when we were at the pool. The clouds looked like one of Bruegel’s paintings. The sunlight above suffused the clouds—the whole western sky above the sea—in colors of tangerine, orange, cider, and flame.
Connection: Today we will eat breakfast together, swim, walk the shoreline and select from scores of intricate shells that wash upon the shorelines here. We will feel the sun, hear the doves as we walk the boardwalks from which the pink-beaked doves herald their silky ooo-whoo repeatedly from the wires above. The Saint Augustine grass is thick and green in the yards. Burrowing owls—native here— burrow just feet away from the walking trails. Sundry species of ibis scurry everywhere, and the mangrove forests are densely green. Women shake fruit from the trees into colorful sheets by shaking ripe melons from the trees with a long pole. Watching them reminds of watching pecan tree farmers shake their groves of pecan trees with tractors back in Georgia.
Encouragement: When I rose this morning before the others, I did my morning reading, checked the news on my laptop, and quickly relearned why I came to vacation from what I read—critical race theory indoctrination destroying meritocracy; Cuban families fighting for liberty from Communist tyranny just a few miles south of where I am right now in south Florida; Chicago, New York, and many Pacific Northwest cities seeing more murders than deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I read of women’s sports being utterly destroyed due to biological males ‘identifying’ as women, and of superb women being deprived of their opportunities to succeed in their respective fields. I saw a culture that has chosen to deny reality and mandate madness.
Then I closed the computer and looked around. I remembered last evening when we went for ice cream. My son got a waffle cone with the coffee-flavored ice cream he loves. My wife got the peanut butter and chocolate ice cream she loves. And I got the Rocky Road I can never resist. We ate and enjoyed. We felt the sun. We smelled the air. I watched a boy across from me eat his cone so quickly he had lime-green color smeared all over tanned face. I saw folks walk and talk and read and nap in the sun. I saw American flags line the streets of the neighborhood where we are staying. I heard the giggles of children and saw old husbands and wives holding hands.
Vacation cannot last, I know that. It is just that—a temporary reprieve from it all. But when I am down here, I recapture a confidence that most folks know basic truths. They know that boys are boys and that girls are girls. They know that it is folly to defund police and let thugs triumph. They know that it is a good thing to fear God, to respect creation and tend it as a caretaker, rather than destroy it. We know that it is right and good and proper to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, instead of teaching them that reality will bend to the will of political correctness, just because that is trendy for some. There is still a remnant of mature, sober-minded people who see. They are awake, I assure you, but not ‘woke’ and it will be the adults, I pray, who triumph over the petulant social engineers trying to destroy the very things that make us all want to go on vacation and recapture.