Last week I had the great joy of doing something I’d never done before! At the tender age of 64, I went on a vacation with my 2 brothers and my sister. I think the last time we went anywhere as a family was probably 60 years ago when we moved from Lafayette, IN to East Lansing, MI. So…it’s been a long time in coming. In fact, it never even occurred to me to dream it up, but last summer at our family reunion (with all spouses, kids, and grand children), one of us older folks mentioned that it’s hard to talk to one another while also wanting to enjoy our kids…and then one thing led to another, and my brother Wolle invited us to join him for a cruise, and nobody could make it but the biological sibs…and away we went! My sister Annie was the only one of the five of us who couldn’t make it. We departed on a short cruise together out of Miami on Norwegian Cruise Line’s beautiful ship, “Sky,” and then spent the remainder of the week in Orlando with my sister Lynn. The most exotic day for me was our visit to Norwegian’s private island, called Great Stirrup Cay, a sandy, 250-acre gem lined with coconut palms (did I mention tourists?) and alive with the raucous antics of sea gulls and sanderlings. My brother Rob was just recovering from surgery for spinal stenosis (less than 2 weeks out) & had no business being on the trip a’tall, so he came later for lunch, but Wolle and I hopped aboard the first tender we could catch and hiked to the far end of the island before anybody else even seemed to know it existed! There is a gorgeous lagoon near the very western end of the island, and after a good trek in the balmy 83° breeze, we’d worked up enough body heat to love swimming in the lush, tropical water, which was also about 83°! 🙂 The best snorkeling is along the rocky islands and outcroppings, so after a great barbeque lunch (provided by the cruise line), Wolle and I enjoyed snorkeling to our hearts’ content (because the water was so warm). The fish were very curious. When I held still, they’d come up and try to nibble at me! However, they were camera shy & swam off whenever I tried to film them. Surrounded by such beauty, it’s pretty hard to resist imagining what it would be like to live there. You know…Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson style…But despite the scenic beauty and luxurious weather, it occurred to me that what I always love best about being wherever I am is the company! Paradise wouldn’t be paradise without having two absolutely great big brothers to share it with (…or my husband or other loved ones). Paradise for me is not primarily not a place, it’s a presence. Being in the presence of warmth and love. Ultimately, what makes any place a paradise is the warm embrace of God’s love. Without Him, even heaven would seem like hell, but with Him, any place on earth seems almost like heaven to me!
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).