This black and white photo I’m holding was taken of my dad in front of our cabin around 1956. He would have been 6 years old. He died in 2010, at 60 years old.
His ashes are buried at a small cemetery just down the road from our cabin; his grave marker engraved with the words “Vacare Deo.”
This place, my dad told me, just years a few years before his cancer diagnosis, was his “Vacare Deo.” It’s a phrase he and I learned together, which means “Vacation with God.”
I’m here this week, at the cabin that’s been in our family for generations.
There’s a sacredness here, and I want to touch it to see what it says.
What is here? What’s there to learn? What’s there to glean to grow? What’s there to simply receive in joy?
I sip my coffee from a Musky mug and gaze out at the lake that’s as still as glass, just as he did every time I went up north with him. I sit and remember him. I can hear his voice in almost every thing I do. I can almost smell his Irish Spring soap too. That mundane details feels so significant and fills me with a healing I cannot quite describe other than to say it makes my soul smile.
I’m not even finished with my coffee when my boys wake up and go straight to fishing and playing in the water. They look under rocks for creatures, catch eager bluegills off hotdogs and empty hooks, and feed the chipmunks scraps of their snacks. I watch with a smile just as I imagine my dad did with my brother and I when we were little kids doing the same things.
I receive great joy in these quiet moments.
I taste and see the Lord’s untainted goodness in tangible ways here that seem so veiled and hidden in the every day hustle and bustle of life back home, and especially on those dark days that come.
I feel the healing of bitter grief.
There’s a sacred giving that I’m receiving this week.
It feels gentle and kind after many seasons of traumatic takings.
I remind myself that, though the seasons and places change, the Lord remains the same. He does not give and take His love. His love is ever-present, although I am not always present to it.
A little internet search describes “Vacare Deo” as space for God; “solitude with God that repairs the damage done by the fret, noise, and clamor of this world.”