This is Spring Break time in Oregon. So, with the kids out of school coastal communities like Lincoln City swell with families and college students’ looking to have a ‘break’ from whatever it is that has dominated their time for the winter months. It is always a bonus when the weather cooperates and blustery storms turn into warm and sunny days with crystal clear nights.
At the church I have a window view of the forest and the parking lot. I can see the trees moving with the gentle caress of the wind and I can see just about every vehicle that enters the church property. Yesterday a car came into the lot, drove in front of the church, I waved, they pulled in and park. The dad got out of the car and started walking toward the church so I went out to meet him. Then I saw the kids: one, two, three, four, and then five. Found out later they had eight in all but not all had come to their home on the coast. Found out this year their Spring Break was two weeks long and they had come to our city to spend time as family. They drove to the church to find out what time the services were on Sunday (10 am) and during Holy Week (Maundy Thursday at 5 pm). They were coming to worship as a family.
Terri was walking Wrigley along the Winema Beach yesterday. The beach was almost deserted which is always great for beach combing and letting our little dog explore. She discovered that she would be sharing this half-mile stretch of shoreline with 2 or 3 other families. A father and his two sons dominated her observation. The older was four and the younger was in the backpack strapped to dad’s back. The four year old was flying a kite for the first time. The conversation was amazing and I heard about it two or three times throughout the evening. As one of our friends said at dinner last night, “He will remember that experience and share that story when he is 85.”
Driving the Pacific Coast Highway, especially during Spring Break, you see all sorts of interesting people. We have our share of homeless; we have those explorers who are hiking across America or at least this section of it; we have the groups of women on a beach getaway and the couples of all ages holding hands. Rarely, if ever, have I seen people arguing (although it has happened in the grocery stores). Usually there is a sense of excitement and anticipation as they make their way to the beach to explore. They have come to “The Coast” to be together, to rest, relax, and renew. They leave with experiences that provide the opportunity to anchor their relationships by doing positive things together.
Why am I saying this? I have spent the last 33 years living in resort communities. I have observed people coming to the San Juan Islands, the mountains and valley of Jackson Hole, and now to the Central Coast in Oregon. In most cases the scenario is the same: people come to take a break from the demands back home, enjoy the magnificence of God’s creation (whether they recognize it as such or not) and share positive experiences which can result in stronger relationships.
Resort communities help provide these blessings to our guests. Yes, I know: the traffic becomes annoying; going out to eat requires more planning; lines in the store are longer; people seemingly move with no sense of direction as if lost (and they probably are). The desire to “get our city back” is felt by many and sometimes expressed. When residents in resort cities look only at themselves guests become ‘tourists’ and frustration grows. It is a discipline of the soul to remind ourselves the benefits we are providing to friends and family as we share the blessings we see and experience every day with our guests visiting our community.
And what are the potential outcomes of these blessings? I have already referred to the strengthening of families and relationships but let me add: an appreciation of the beauty of creation often lost by city-dwellers that may lead to a better stewardship of the land; learning new skills or hobbies that might aid in relaxation when they go back home; release from stress that might relieve physical ailments and reduce expense; in a relaxing environment the potential serendipity moments that might lead to discovery that can change a life and maybe a world. The list could go on and on.
A final thought: Spring break…going to the Coast….renewal, rest, relationship building, serendipity moments, Jesus loved going to the water. When he began his ministry he moved his hub from Nazareth in the hills to Capernaum by the shore. He met his closest friends there. He shared many moments of teaching there. He experienced the storms of life and moments of quiet there. After his resurrection he returned there and called his disciples to change the world.
Coming to the coast certainly can be a wonderful Spring Break activity. It might also be a life changing time. Be open to what God may want it to be for you.