Vacation-Dreaming on Jacob’s Pillow

A few weeks ago we camped for two nights at the South Fork Hoh River campground, a tiny quiet spot twelve miles off the beaten path of Highway 101, just outside the west boundary of Olympic National Park. Of the six sites, four were vacant, including one with river frontage between two huge, moss-draped western maples. (Who knew there was a giant maple indigenous to the Pacific Northwest? Certainly not me!) ¬†Someone left a small cairn between the picnic table and the fire pit, with a top rock bigger than all the rest, so big that it needed to be balanced on two piles. It looked like a pillow, and all I could think of whenever I walked by was Jacob taking a stone for a pillow when he fell asleep on his wilderness journey. The pillow he chose couldn’t have been any more comfortable than the rock at our campsite, but what a dream he had! The ladder to heaven didn’t make any sense to him but he longed to believe God’s promises that went along with it. He woke up certain of divine presence, poured oil on the stone to mark it as a sacred space, and moved on.

Whenever I get away, really away, I have vacation dreams, not dreams of vacation but dreams during vacation, waking dreams of all the things I want to do and, in my vacation-dreaming state, realize I can do. Sometimes these vacation dreams point me in a new direction, like Jacob’s dream, or dig more deeply into the direction in which I am already traveling. There is always the temptation to attach to a particular place or a particular moment in time. My favorite apostle Peter succumbs to this temptation to stay on the mountaintop (“let us make three dwellings”). That same temptation lures us to attach to a particular dream, when what Jesus really wants is for us to take our dreams and be on the move.

What are your dreams? Where are you going next?

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