First of all, he invited those of us who can, to use our vacation time in a way that helps renew our relationships with others and with God. Interrupting the hectic and frantic pace of daily life, we can take time to dedicate ourselves to others and to God. The Pope even suggested we include a copy of the Sacred Scriptures in our suitcase. He also invited us to contemplate the greatness, and admire the beauty, of creation around us, recognizing in it the wonderful presence of the Creator.
We need to observe this magnificent gift, he said, with the same attention Jesus did. He knew how to interpret the language and signs of Creation, which is a gift we must respect, protect and care for, in the name of God, humanity and future generations.
Finally, Pope Benedict suggested that pilgrims and travellers apply their intelligence and curiosity to discovering the monuments of the past – witnesses of culture and faith, as he called them, examples of our spiritual roots and heritage. Cathedral and abbeys, in particular, are places where beauty helps us feel the presence of God and inspires us to pray for the rest of humanity, on its pilgrimage through the Third Millennium. The enjoyment of friendship, reading, nature and culture helps to nourish and restore our spirit. It gives us the strength to continue our journey refreshed and renewed.
Sounds like a good plan, don't you think? Typically I get a lot of that peace and natural beauty when I spend a week at the beach. This year we headed to Disney World instead. Although it was fun, it was certainly not relaxing or spiritually uplifting. And right about now I'm feeling the need to sit on a beach or in the mountains or by a lake and silently revel in God's creation. So listen to the pope. Find a place to escape the daily routine -- if only for one day -- and recharge your body, mind and spirit.