Church of England Diocese of York Barmston with Fraisthorpe

Richard's article for August's Village Voice

20 Jul 2021, 12:45 a.m.

What do you make of the word ‘staycation’? For many it seems to mean having your annual holiday in the UK (horrors!) instead of in the Algarve or Tuscany. Whereas for my family (and I suspect many others) an annual holiday in the UK is just… a holiday. That’s what we always do. A staycation, therefore, is not going away at all, just staying at home, with some day trips to places nearby, perhaps. Which, when you live at the seaside, is hardly the worst thing that can happen.

Travelling away from home can enable a change of gear and some real rest, whether it’s a long or a short distance. For the last two or three weeks I’ve been sitting with the story of Elijah, burnt out after a great victory over the prophets of the pagan god Baal, terrified by the death threats hurled at him by Queen Jezebel, and running away through the desert to Mount Sinai, a place where he’s sure God will meet with him. Near the start of the journey Elijah collapses in exhaustion, but an angel of God wakes him up and feeds him with fresh bread and water – then lets him sleep again.

Elijah reaches his destination, hides in a cave, and grumbles to God that he’s the only one left of all God’s followers, and the responsibility is too much to bear. God displays his power in earthquake, wind and fire, but He himself is not in those things – only in the gentle whisper of a voice which comes afterwards. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” asks God again. Elijah repeats his grumble. God responds by sending Elijah back the way he came, with fresh instructions, and the assurance that there are actually 7,000 other loyal worshippers that Elijah didn’t know about or had forgotten in his self-pity.

Whether we manage to get away or we’re staying at home, it’s good to sit for a while with God, to tell him exactly how we feel and listen carefully for his reply. It might not be what we want or expect. But to hear (and obey!) the authentic voice of God is worth any amount of journeying, whether it’s crossing continents or the more arduous journey into our selves.