This afternoon, after finishing my work early, as it was often the case on Fridays, I asked Alex my wife to bring out Charlie, the two-wheeled leather shopping bag, and decided to stock up while she engaged with defrosting the refrigerator (I know, it's a really old one, given to us by a mate of mine).
When Charlie was not where it was supposed to be, we searched the house top to bottom, and we were totally mystified over it's absence. We picked out every point in our memories and we sworn that I brought it home from our last shopping trip, on a Thursday, which happened to be on the same day our airplane touched down at London Gatwick Airport, concluding a fabulous week at Kos, one of the Greek Islands making up the Dodecanese.
(Of my last blog, 10th October, 2011).
I decided to go ahead with the shopping without Charlie, and while at the superstore, I recall a trip made on Sunday, the day before returning to work, to buy a single but rather large carton of laundry powder. I wondered whether due to post holiday (vacation) blues, I had left the wheeled bag behind in the store. Embarrassingly, I asked the receptionist at the Customer Help Desk if they came across a stray wheeled piece of luggage, and she disappeared for a moment, only to re-appear with the object of such familiarity. My joy of re-uniting with what was really a long lost friend! Charlie, it's good to have you back home.
Post holiday blues. This is something I particularly suffer with. It is that feeling of melancholic emptiness after opening the front door of our home, immediately reminding us of the enthusiastic excitement I felt the moment we slammed the door shut to catch a train to the airport. In this melancholic state, my thinking and concentration becomes blurred, and I tend to become forgetful, hence the forgetting to collect Charlie from the superstore that Sunday afternoon.
Post holiday blues seemed to have no respect for the duration of the break. It seems that just one week away brings on the blues as much as one I took in 1997. Back then, as a single bachelor, I flew out from London to Singapore, spent five nights at a backpackers hostel before flying out to Australia, where for the next six weeks I always found someone to talk and socialise, which continued for a further three weeks in California. Exactly ten weeks after taking off at London Heathrow, the 'plane touched down on the same runway and a couple of hours later I turned the key of the lock on my apartment door, to face the still and sullen silence, after seventy evenings spent in social company with other travelers.
The feeling of emptiness reached to the point of despair, and I phoned a couple to ask if I can come round to their house, and spend some time with them. Fortunately they had some time to spare and together helped me to re-adjust to normal life.
Some major travel agencies, such as Trailfinders, an London agent where long-haul travelers booked their flights, had, I believe, a counselling room for those suffering from post holiday blues. I even read in a long haul travel magazine that the British Medical Association recognised this mental ailment and has offered therapy. Indeed, post holiday blues looks to be taken with a degree of seriousness.
That is why whenever I book a break, whether its just one week or a sabbatical ten weeks as in 1997, I always avoid what I personally call, "Touchdown Sunday, back to work Monday". Most of my friends can handle this sort of thing a lot easier. In fact, one church member seemed peeved that although I landed back in the UK early on a Thursday, I did not start work until Monday. I did wonder, and now I wished I had asked, whether having a desk job makes all the difference in his ability to return to work straight from the airport. Therefore I find a Wednesday-to-Wednesday booking to be the most ideal, and most of my oversea breaks, even as a lone backpacker, was normally a Wednesday departure. One rare exception was our two week honeymoon at a Greek island of Rhodes, when we took off on a Saturday (the day we wed) to arrive back home early on a Sunday morning. To compensate for this, I took the Monday off to buy new furniture for our apartment. It made resuming work on the Tuesday a lot easier.
Now I must add here that I don't dislike my work! The very fact that I have been self-employed for more than thirty years shows that I have a degree of enjoyment in my job as a domestic window cleaner. I believe what gets me down is that the greater part of my income goes to mundane living, paying the rent and the fuel bills, not to mention local and national income taxes. The thought of fuel company executives and shareholders pocketing my hard earned cash does make me feel inclined to wonder why I need to get up for work in the mornings.
But for one who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, there is great hope for the believer. Only this morning, during my daily Bible reads, I was pouring over Revelation chapters 21 and 22. In these two chapters, John was revelling at a vision he had of the New Jerusalem, which is to come down from God in heaven. It will be the destiny for every saint who lived from Adam to the end of history. A saint, by the way, is someone who believes in Jesus for salvation, and not someone canonised by the Catholic Church. Every true believer is a saint.
If you read these chapters, one would get an impression on the sheer beauty of the city. It lies foursquare, each side being up to 1,500 miles long, giving an area 2,250,000 square miles, a huge area, much larger than the whole of the UK and about half the size of the USA. This suggest that the population within is much higher than most people imagine. The city is built on twelve foundations each from a transparent precious stone, along with the walls, the buildings and the streets. Most important of all, the throne of God will be there, and it will illuminate the entire city. And everyone will be able to look God in the face and communicate. It is indeed a fascinating place to be!
And this is the eternal destiny for all believers. It will be a place of intense joy and happiness. There will no pain or sorrow, nor hunger or thirst, no debt or finance and for that matter, no tiredness or boredom. And all this because by dying on the cross, Jesus Christ made entry into this city possible for all believers. "Behold, the dwelling of God is with man" John writes. It is the reason why we are here. To know God, who made us for his own pleasure, and for us to partake in the strong love that has always existed between God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God's will was always to spend eternity with us, and after us falling into sin and separation, God did something to reconcile us back to himself. He sent Jesus Christ, his beloved Son and darling of his own heart, to die as a sacrifice on the Cross. Such love!
Our eternity will be in that strikingly beautiful city. That means that there will be no return ticket, no counting of days left to go, no apprehension of boarding the flight home, and no post holiday blues. It is a hope to look to, especially as one like me who suffers this mental ailment. So to the reader who is a believer in Jesus yet suffer the blues, think of these things and remind yourself what God has for you.
It might just make you return to work with a spring in your step.