Sometimes, reflections on family travel come from an unexpected source! My little ones are doing a great preschool program at church and this week they were studying Daniel. The theme was “God Watches Over Us When We Are Away From Home”. As my four year old and I discussed her “homework” she pointed out to me that travel can be scary. It is hard to sleep in a strange bed in a dark place. It was comforting to her to be reminded by her teacher that God is with her, even when she is away from home.
This discussion got me thinking about the presence of God in our family vacations. Our family tries to be devout. We say grace before meals and attend church on Sundays, but when we head off on vacation sometimes these devotions start to slip. Yet, as Destiny reminded me, perhaps these are the moments when our family needs God the most.
You may be on the road on Sunday and the thought of preschoolers at a Saturday evening mass or service makes your toes curl. I am a big fan of visiting churches with preschoolers when no one is there! We sneak into church, look at the statues and windows, talk about Jesus and God, and say at least one little prayer.
Perhaps you can find a church with lively music or a rich history that your older child will appreciated. We are lucky here in California to have missions throughout the state. When the kids are older I am looking forward to attending mass in most of them. Not only are they beautiful, but they give us rich insight into our historical past.
If visiting friends or family ask around for the more kid friendly churches in town. Even with the best of intentions you may not make it through the whole mass or service (I have needed to walk out when I was by myself with two unruly toddlers). Still, you have showed your children that you value being with God and are willing to make the effort to be at church.
My husband’s family has a sweet tradition where they start out major road trips with a guardian angel prayer. In the future, I plan to be more intentional about including prayer throughout our vacation day: remembering to say grace in a restaurant, praying to St. Anthony when we are lost (which is often), and thanking God for the beauty and wonder of our journey at the end of the day.
Destiny and Jared’s church school material recommended bringing a Bible on vacation to remind your child that God is with them when they are away from home. I think this is a great idea, and also think that a smaller religious symbol, a cross, small statue, or holy medal might do the trick and be easier to carry.
My final thought on this is that God really does watch over us when we are away from home. Continuing to have a relationship him while we travel can really enrich our experience. Most of my international traveling was done as a teenager and young adult. As a teenager I spent the summer in Venezuela. My family may have been Catholic, but they never went to church. I was somewhat isolated where I lived and didn’t go out and find a mass to attend. I was lonely and missed that spiritual connection during my time away. The next time I went abroad as a college student I purposely requested a family who actively attended church. Going to church in a foreign country and learning the mass responses in a foreign language enriched my experience beyond measure. There were times that were tough. I missed my fiance. My grades weren’t the greatest. I was ready to give up. What kept me going was lots of prayer and a dose of daily mass now and again. A friend of mine who studied church history and I visited different churches throughout Santiago, Chile. I loved seeing the differences in the physical buildings and the cultures of the church community. A visit to a peaceful Franciscan Monastary is also a treasured memory.
So as you begin your next family adventure, share with your child that God watches over them when they are away from home. Try to find some spiritual moments in the midst of all that fun. Your adventure will be richer for it.
Tags: Catholic, Catholic travel, church, faith, Family Travel, parenting