I’ve chosen to accept the reality our world faces – we are living through a pandemic. This choice, I’m learning, affects so many parts of my life. This fall, it became obvious that I needed some time away, but where can one go…safely…on vacation? In my search, I discovered Yurts, fancy tents. I also learned that Yurts have coined a new term, “glamping = glamorous + camping.” You’ll now find Yurts now in many locations. The one I chose is located at Natural Falls State Park near Siloam Springs, Arkansas. More on that in a moment.
I’ve had other seasons in life where what I used to do just doesn’t work anymore. Before my back injury, I had a habit of taking a walk before I entered the church or my office. I would drive to church, but before I ever checked voicemails or emails, or even entered the building, I would take a 30-minute walk. Usually, I made several laps around the city block where the church was located. It was such a vital time to settle my soul, pray for those in the congregation, and set my intent for the day. Injuring my back meant that practice wasn’t available to me any longer. I learned to ask the following questions by being forced to change:
• What are the non-negotiables that must be preserved in the transition to something new?
• What has worked in the past that can be readjusted for this new season?
• What new discoveries might show up because I must adjust?
Back to the Yurt. This was a brand-new kind of vacation for me. When living through a pandemic, one must adjust. As I asked the questions above, I knew that I would need to be alone for a few days before my husband joined me – a non-negotiable. I knew that being in nature has always been renewing for my soul – worked in the past. Those two “knowings” guided the choice of a Yurt – close to nature and time by myself.
Yurts typically have some of the amenities of home. Mine had a mini-fridge, a microwave, a real bed, plus a unit that provided some measure of heat and air conditioning. Notably, it did not have running water. The Park folks had graciously provided a few porta-potties within a short walk. There were also showers and flush toilets provided for the campground at the end of a much longer walk. I knew this would be a different experience than I had ever had before – and indeed it was. However, some new discoveries did show up while glamping.
The first discovery I made was how important it is to live where you are. Camping has never been my go-to for a relaxing time away. I could’ve spent those six nights wishing for my own bed, my own shower, and the list continues. But my home doesn’t allow the sound of the cicadas to lull me to sleep. My home also doesn’t have a fire pit right outside the door so I can enjoy long evenings in front of the fire. I decided to live where I was and soak it up. It was delicious. I took long hikes on all the trails around there. I read. I prayed. I listened to all the sounds of creation that I am usually too busy to notice. I also discovered that I’m really good without a shower for about 48 hours. It was a cue to me that I’m on vacation. I don’t have to take a shower because I don’t have to be anywhere or see anyone who will care. What freedom!
Another discovery for me is that food doesn’t have to be my comfort. If normal patterns were followed, vacation planning for Kurt and me involves many conversations about where we will eat. We both LOVE food and we love experiencing new foods and places together. Food is always one of the highlights of vacation for us. The stories we tell when we return are often about what we ate. I wasn’t going anywhere to eat – and the microwave and fridge combo doesn’t encourage a lot of cooking. I still had a delightful time. My yogurt with blueberries never tasted so good. Heated up leftovers tasted better than the first time we had them. I learned how to eat because I was hungry, not because I wanted comfort. And that is a great lesson.
Finally, I discovered how much planning is required for daily tasks in new environments. For example, in order to brush my teeth, I had to pour some water from my jug into a cup, put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, and grab a towel. Then, I had to go outside and find a suitable place to brush, brush, brush…rinse, rinse, rinse…and then clean the brush with the left-over water. This had to happen twice a day and I’d better not leave out any of those steps because I’d be caught without a good solution. Having to “work” at these daily tasks engaged different parts of my brain. Learning from my mistakes was really good for me. And, having a sense of accomplishment after I brushed my teeth was pretty neat.
You might make a different choice than me. You might choose to continue life without any adjustments due to the pandemic. Because of my choice, I think I will look back on these months where I had to live differently and treasure them. I don’t want this to last forever. I’m ready for life without a mask. I am so looking forward to face-to-face conversations and meals together with loved ones and friends. I really want the pandemic to be over. Even so, I don’t expect to go back to “normal” – whatever that even was. I expect that I’ll always live differently because of 2020 and I’m grateful to bury these lessons deep in my soul.