A Lesson from Massanutten

From July 17 to the 24th of this month, my family and I had a truly marvelous thing happen to us. A church friend and colleague of ours (whom I will not name here) has been going through some difficult times in her personal life and has been doing some ‘wellness’ traveling. In possession of a one week trip to the resort community in western Virginia known as Massanutten, while simultaneously booked onto an Alaskan cruise, she found that she was unable to fit both sets of travel plans into her schedule. The result of this double-booking was that she looked at my wife and said, “How would you all like a vacation for a week?” As ridiculous as that sounds, that really is a fairly accurate distillation of the circumstances. To say that we were thrilled would be an understatement. People don’t usually give vacations away (unless you’re Oprah), and given our tenuous financial situation, and with our son being almost two and constantly in motion, we had no defined plans to vacation; certainly not for a week.

Massanutten, located just outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia, was really a magical place. For seven days we swam in three different pools including an indoor water park, sampled the Blue Ridge buffet, toured the petting zoo, onsite arboretum, and ate at the area restaurants. We took side trips to the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum on the campus of James Madison University, went twice into Shenandoah National Park, and knocked one off my bucket list by seeing the Natural Bridge of Thomas Jefferson fame. We hiked, grilled, swam, and even rode an elephant named Beautiful, who truly was. All in all it was a wonderful trip in which we bonded as a young family should. And it all was made possible by the generosity of one friend who, while undergoing life’s wild vicissitudes, said, “Have this one on me.”

Nancy, John Adams, and I astride Beautiful

Nancy, John Adams, and I astride Beautiful

It’s very easy to get caught up in the drama of our personal lives; I know this only too well. And the problems of life never seem to lighten, especially the financial ones where my family is concerned. But how wonderful to know and remember that there are people out there who are also ‘going through it,’ but instead of turning inward to ruminate on their own problems they turn outward and try to bring a little joy into the lives of others. There’s no question that our friend did that for my family, most especially for our John Adams, who I think has developed a lifelong love of water slides. So thank you, friend, for a beautiful week of memories. But even more so, thank you for being an example of a good and generous person with a big heart. May we all learn from your example and bring some joy into the lives of those around us no matter what our personal traumas might be.

Thanks for the lesson.

Thanks for the memories.

A parakeet attack at the Natural Bridge Zoo with ticklish results.

A parakeet attack at the Natural Bridge Zoo with ticklish results.

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