Persons, places and things: On vacation with God and family

Barb Arland-Fye
Sunset in northern Minnesota.

By Barb Arland-Fye

Tanner emerged from beneath the lake’s surface almost effortlessly, standing on a wakeboard and riding the wake behind our family’s rental boat with confidence and command. Watching Tanner, the boyfriend of my niece Maddie, captivated me and the other 11 relatives on the boat during our vacation in northern Minnesota earlier this month.

Barb Arland-Fye
Some members of the Arland family gather for a family reunion and birthday party in northern Minnesota earlier this month.

The four-day getaway provided the rest, relaxation and family bonding time that my body and soul craved. Each morning, I made time for a long walk on a hilly trail populated with cabins, log homes and pine trees, the fragrance of which evoked childhood memories of family vacations to northern Minnesota. This was my time to talk to God. I reveled in God’s presence as the sun woke up to start the day, birds chirped in the towering pine trees and a walker or jogger passed by, occasionally exchanging a smile or greeting with me.

“Every good Christian knows that vacation is the time to rest the body but also to nurture the spirit through more time for prayer and meditation, to grow in one’s personal relationship with Christ and follow his teachings ever more closely,” the late Pope Benedict XVI said. He was speaking during a three-week private retreat the summer of 2007 in the Dolomite Mountains north of Venice (Reuters/New York Times, July 16, 2007).


My brother Tim organized this short vacation months ago to bring together our siblings, their families and our parents, Mary and Ray, to celebrate Dad’s milestone birthday. I believe God made space and time available (my husband Steve and my staff did, too) so that this vacation could truly provide needed rest and relaxation.

Some of the nearly 30 members of our Arland clan could not be present and we felt their absence. We knew, though, that they wanted the rest of us to enjoy a rare opportunity to be together and make memories. And we did — aboard the rental boat, during dinner at a restaurant and in the log house my brother Brian and his wife Jacque rented for their family. We even made memories dealing with an accident that required first aid, which Alyssa, a nurse and our nephew Tom’s wife, provided so reassuringly.

Each day on the boat, someone lost a hat to the wind. My son Colin’s treasured Washington, D.C. hat flew off first. Tom dove into the water, nabbed the hat and saved the day. Tom dove into the water the next day to retrieve another relative’s hat and on the third day prepared to retrieve my hat from the lake. He didn’t score a “hat trick” however, because a sheriff’s deputy, patrolling the lake with another deputy plucked it from the water and handed it to me. We cheered and the deputy jokingly said, “Now that I’ve pulled you over…”

Tim and I enjoyed quality time in kayaks on the placid lake outside the rental house. As we paddled around a small island mid-morning, I told Tim, “This is a glimpse of heaven.”

A decade ago, responding to a question about rediscovering the meaning of leisure, Pope Francis said, “Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure and gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport … (New York Times, April 23, 2013).

I rediscovered the meaning and need for leisure with God and family.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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