By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, July 30, 2015

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation. He went flying down the river in his boat with his video camera to his eye, making a moving picture of the moving river upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly toward the end of his vacation. He showed his vacation to his camera, which pictured it, preserving it forever: the river, the trees, the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat behind which he stood with his camera preserving his vacation even as he was having it so that after he had had it he would still have it. It would be there. With a flick of a switch, there it would be. But he would not be in it. He would never be in it. ~ Wendell Berry

The time for summer vacation is almost over. Over the next few weeks, all of our kids will go back to their classrooms. Inevitably, they will hear that time-honored first-week-of-school question, “What did you do over the summer?” Summer stories will follow. Answering that question might even involve trinkets from your travels or souvenirs that you saved or mementos meant to capture travels or souvenirs that you saved or mementos meant to capture a moment. These things preserve our presence in those moments and allow us to share them with others. Like the poem from Wendell Berry printed above, souvenirs and vacation mementos have a way of preserving for the traveler “his vacation even as he was having it so that after he had had it he would still have it. It would be there.” Capturing the fleeting feeling of an exceptional vacation when you return to your everyday vocation.

Answering the question, “What did you do over the summer?” for our congregation would include some time off, but also include stories centered on things done and not things undone. Our summer stories involve a Choir tour, children’s camp, family retreat, Passport and an international mission trip. For the next few weeks as we gather on Wednesday nights, we will tell summer stories. As a fun, first Wednesday back to our everyday vocation, I invite you to share your own summer mementos as we gather around the tables. On the 12th, you will hear about the experiences of our youth at Passport Camps. Two of our college students will share about their work through Passport as summer interns. On the 19th, our Slovakia Mission team will report on our work with the Roma settlement. There will even be a taste of Slovakia for all to share. You will want to be there. I look forward to hearing your summer stories.