Last night, I started thinking that God doesn't want me taking vacations.
Two years ago, He sent down several days of pouring rain to obscure my view of the beautiful, rocky coast of Maine. The morning fog alone killed any chance of taking pictures. Again, last year, He sent Hurricane Irene after us, barreling across the Northeast as Gayle and I curled up in a cozy Bed & Breakfast in upstate New York, bound for an outdoor music festival in the Adirondack Mountains. The rain came down hard all night, and the police knocked on the door at noontime the next day to tell us that an evacuation to higher ground was mandatory, as the picturesque stream outside our window swelled into a churning cauldron of brown water and flooded the parking lot, twenty feet above its normal level.
We spent the rest of the day at a public shelter in the basement of a church, with electricity nonexistent, and we had to organize a bucket brigade to a nearby stream in the woods to keep the only two toilets flushing.Thankfully, the fire department arrived with a huge platter of cold meats, slices of cheese, loaves of white bread and bottles of water, not to mention potato chips and Coca-Cola.
The authorities eventually announced that we could go back to our beds before nightfall, which we found by flashlight.
The next morning, I walked to the nearest town and stood in two inches of mud inside a store to satisfy my craving for cigarettes, which the sorrowful store owner sold me in the semi-darkness. The main street of this town was a disaster area, with police stationed at each approach to the town, and debris, including vehicles and whole trees, strewn across front lawns.
We hung on to hear one great afternoon of music at the foot of Hunter Mountain, performed by the hardiest of the scheduled blues musicians, including Robert Cray and the great showman, Buddy Guy.
This year, we set out for one of our favorite destinations in Ogunquit, Maine, and God turned to His Top Angel and chuckled, "Look, there go Tom and Gayle again. Watch this." Everyone in heaven laughed, but those of us on the ground got whacked by a nor'easter which punished the coast for two days with high winds, pelting rain and even dumped a foot of snow further inland--in April! On the third day, about 5:30 am, I woke up and spotted a small break in the clouds outside our window, so I had to get up and go out in search of a sunrise, though it was chilly and the wind was still brisk. As I reached the "Top of the Way," an outlook along the "Marginal Way" that weaves alongside the rocky coast, the sun's rays broke through the clouds and formed the body of a perfect, glowing pyramid climbing to the sky with a base of shining silver sea out on the horizon, huge and shimmering as the clouds moved. It was too late to run for my camera, so I just stood there, mesmerized.
"Wasn't that nice?" God turned and said.
"That was very nice," said the Angel.
"I should do that more often."
The scene lasted only a minute or so, but I wholeheartedly agree with God.