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Archdeacon Michael: My rules for a happy holiday

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How do you plan a visit or a holiday? Are you someone who sits down with guidebooks, histories, reviews of restaurants and activities?

Is your visit a military exercise, intelligence gained, details rehearsed and all planned? Or do you prefer to go with the flow, see where you find yourself, relax and experience whatever occurs.

I would love to be like the second category, but I can’t do it. My natural inquisitive nature, along with liking to feel a little bit in control, means that I start to do my research as soon as a place is mentioned. Sometimes this can mean that I read more about the history of a place than is necessary, often I still feel unprepared.

Cities like Lancaster have complex histories with Roman, medieval, Georgian, Victorian, contemporary dynamics. To try to take it all in either in advance or even in a visit is too much. However, this does not stop me trying! I am much more relaxed if I know I might revisit a place, but I still want to find out as much as possible before I arrive.

Once I am there, my pride kicks in. Despite the presence of my camera, and my distinctive sense of fashion, I try to pretend not to be a tourist. I don’t want to be caught with a map or a guidebook. Once there I try and be “in the moment” allowing the buildings, the people and the atmosphere to communicate with me. My analogy is it is amazing to watch a butterfly fly past, then is not the time to work out the mechanics of how it is doing it.

Its colours and patterns are amazing and are for me one of the reasons I believe that rather than an accident that the world is created. When in somewhere like the butterfly house, then is not the moment to contemplate the complexities of the chemicals, physiology etc.

The hymn “How Great Thou Art” by Carl Boberg sums up that experience of awe and wonder. It is not simply an intellectual contemplation of the world but an experience of recognition.

I hope that you at this holiday times have moments which take you beyond the planning and organisation needed for daily life. That you have moments when the wonder of the world around you, whether at home or away causes you to feel you “scarce can take it in.”