Late last summer the three Brawner brothers and wives went on a dream trip, a cruise to Alaska. It was the first time ever all three couples traveled together. Jim’s older brother Joe was just regaining his strength from a heavy round of chemo. His wife Karen was exhausted and each of the rest of us were dealing with wearing life issues. The timing for a break couldn’t have been orchestrated any better.
For me, half the fun of a trip is the planning. Jim’s younger brother, Jerry, and I were turned loose to make all the decisions and arrangements. I felt like a day trader finding specials, piecing together flights, and transferring and buying frequent flyer miles. It was a three week hobby of sorts.
The ship was fabulous, the company was unbeatable, and there was enough food to feed a small country. All that, with the peaceful massiveness of the landscape, was almost too much to process at once. If you are ever in doubt God exists, visit Alaska. You will fully understand the Be still and know that I am God scripture.
I stayed lost most of the time. That’s not too surprising since I can get turned around in Walmart. My true north for the week was the Lido deck where the pool and endless food stations were located. That’s where we spent hours relaxing and laughing with all the life clutter left in the Seattle bay.
As we pulled back in to port, there sat the real world on the dock waiting for us. I deeply wished we could stay on the ship, turn around and head back out to sea. However, if we didn’t go ashore how could we fully appreciate the Lido deck?
In that week I became more aware of the value of family, the vulnerability of life, and the importance of stepping away for a break, regaining strength to push on. Most of the time I feel I don’t have the time to stop, but now I’m positive it’s essential for survival.
Recently the Jerry Brawner branch of the family tree has been thrown some hard, fast, curve balls. It’s times like this I’m temped to ask that question about bad things happening to good people. It just doesn’t seem fair. But life doesn’t always act the way I want it to. This is where the trust part of faith fits in, I suppose.
A couple of weeks ago I sent Jerry’s wife, Rayanna, a text of emotional support. I didn’t hear from her until the next day. When I did this is what the text said: “Sorry I took so long to respond. I was on the Lido deck.”