But this year will be different.
On Saturday, instead of polishing off a sermon or meditation, I'll be boarding an airplane with my three kids, three other adults, and about a dozen youth from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (EDOW) to head for the Gulf Coast for a "Spring Break Work Trip." We'll fly to Gulfport, MS then drive on over to Mobile, AL where we'll be staying. Our work site will be in Bayou la Batre, AL, which is a little shrimping village made famous by the movie "Forest Gump." (Bayou la Batre is where his friend, Bubba was from and where he ran his "Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.") And of course, this area has been made infamous by Hurricane Katrina.
Bayou la Batre is also part of my childhood stomping grounds. For four generations - ending unfortunately with mine - my family had a fishing camp just one village over in Coden, AL. However, to get groceries, gas, go to the Post Office or get fresh bait, we had to go to Bayou la Batre. That part of the Gulf Coast was literally my "home away from home." It's where I learned to bait a hook, to rig the spreaders for a shrimp net on the back of a skiff, and to drive - an outboard, a car, and a sailboat. It's where I learned to back a trailer, tell a he-crab from a she-crab, and even how to put one of those critters to sleep. It's where I first heard live Gospel music floating through the pines from the nearby Pentecostal church, and where I would watch the lights on the shrimp boats dotting the horizon as they headed out into the Gulf waters late at night via the Mississippi Sound. It's where I learned to wash dishes by hand, cut the grass with a swing blade, and play checkers. It's where I learned to rest.
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance when invited to go along on this work trip as Chaplain.
It didn't hurt at all that my parents still live in Pensacola, FL - about 90 minutes East of Bayou la Batre, and that they will come and collect my brood of three and take them home with them.
So, I am excited about this trip "home" for so very many reasons.
Not the least of which is the fact that our context for our work is, in fact, Holy Week.
I am expecting great things to happen.
(ed. note - the photo above is from a brilliant photographer, Roman Alokhin - see his onine gallery here.)