A Cruise Vacation

1 June 2010
By Rev. Paul N. Papas II

A Cruise Vacation

Most people just enjoyed a long Memorial Day weekend. Some see this as a start to the summer season where they look forward to their vacations. For an increasing number of people in America it is just more of the daily grind they face.

It is easy to experience fear, anxiety, and frustration as you focus on the mountain in front of you, as homelessness and hunger close in on you.

I remember reading about Connor O’Reilly, a penniless Irishman in the last century, whose dream of emigrating to America came true when a wealthy relative bought him passage on an ocean liner. Even though he had a ticket to board, O’Reilly was still worried about not being able to afford meals during the voyage. So he planned ahead. The day he boarded, he used his few shillings to buy loaves of bread, and then stuffed them into his tattered suitcase.

For the week the ship was at sea, O’Reilly regularly disappeared into his berth to eat. He ate secretly for fear that other poor passengers would ask him to share – and he barely had enough for one. While well-to-do passengers were enjoying the delicious fare in the ship’s dining room, he would stand outside, casting longing stares through the windows.

The evening before the ship was to dock in New York, a man asked O’Reilly to join him for the evening meal.

“Ah, many thanks to you,” said Conner. “But I don’t have any money.”

“What are you talking about the other passenger exclaimed. “Your ticket to board was also your ticket to the ship’s dining room. You’ve had three lovely meals a day already paid for since you left home.”

Poor O’Reilly spent a week eating stale bread when he could have been feasting with his fellow passengers.

Too many people go through life like O’Reilly, not realizing the talents and blessings they have been given to navigate the great ocean of life.

I know homelessness and hunger are situations a greater number of people in America are facing as the economy continues to weaken. Foreclosures are increasing partly because banks have a monetary reward to foreclose rather than modify the mortgages. Foreclosures are also increasing do to a larger number of people loosing their job and not being able to find another.

Families are facing tough challenges today with the increased stress caused by tough financial circumstances. This is a time when families should be making wellness checks of their family members and friends. Increased financial challenges affect all members of a family. Take time often to observe and hear what other family members are doing and saying. Sometimes a real visit will do wonders for all family members involved. You should be able to detect any change in moods or attitudes. Remember stress manifests itself in many physical and emotional ways. Depression and anxiety are things you may be able to see, but the damage stress can do to inside the body may not be seen until it’s too late. The breadwinner is in more danger of the negative affects of stress while he is unable to provide for his family.

Yes it might be nice to take a cruise vacation to relax, but there are many inexpensive ways to relax…like taking a walk. Stress reduction is a key to a healthy life. I would suggest that you find what works for you.

We have many blessings within our families and friends and they can be a great support system. We can be like O’Reilly above, eating stale bread, and miss the fellowship of our family and friends or share and be blessed by the fellowship of others.

Sometimes the best medicine is some fresh air and good fellowship.

Rev Paul N. Papas II, is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries, (MA and AZ) and the Founder of the Family Renewal Center. http://www.narrowpathministries.org and http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org

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