After a really busy couple of months, it's always good to get away after the holidays, and whenever I have the opportunity, I'll usually go for it. This year, a couple of friends came up with the idea of going on a cruise over the New Year's holiday - the rationale being that none of us like New Year's Eve, so why not get away (preferably to somewhere warm).
After considering several options, we settled on a cruise from Baltimore to the Bahamas. Amazingly enough, we set sail from Baltimore late in the afternoon and by the next morning, wonder of wonders, it was warm enough to sit on the balcony in a tee shirt. Of course, the same phenomenon happened on the way back. We left Freeport in the early afternoon (it was 83 degrees that day) and by that evening, you needed a sweatshirt to sit outside.
I had never been to the Bahamas before. The only things I really knew about it were #1) it was warm there, and #2) it was where that place I had seen advertised at least a zillion times was - Atlantis - and so, out of sheer curiosity, I wanted to see what it was all about. So we signed up for a shore excursion that would take us across the bridge from Nassau to Paradise Island where Atlantis is located.
Well, we didn't buy a day pass to the immense water park or the aquarium or anything like that, but we DID get to spend some time enjoying the dolphin cove, the fountains in front of the Royal Tower, and the shops inside of the Coral Tower. But there was one thing that fascinated me more than anything else - it was a statement made by the tour host. He informed us that a suite in the Royal Tower costs $25,000 per night with a four-night minimum.
I just couldn't get that out of my mind. The very fact that anyone in the entire world has $100,000 (plus tax and resort fees, of course) to spend on a suite for a 4-day vacation seems pretty incredible. I'm certainly in favor of vacations - we all need time to get away from our normal routine, and to rest, relax, enjoy our friends & family, and see and experience new things. But $100,000 for 4 days is a bit over-the-top, don't you think?
Granted, I spent only about $800 to book the cruise I was on - dirt cheap for a 7-day cruise, especially over a holiday, but regardless ... I couldn't help being conscious of the fact that there is only a small fraction of people in the world who could ever DREAM about going on a cruise.
That thought was a vivid reminder that we all have a responsibility to consider the less fortunate of our world. and to do what we can to share our good gifts. Taking family vacation and cruises with our friends are good things. But let's also remember that we, as Christians, should feel as deeply as our Lord does when it comes to the plight of families who are living in squalor in Haiti & other places, and families who are fleeing Syria, Central America and other nations where oppression and fear reigns, not to mention those in our own country who have very little in the way of support and resources.
Let's give thanks for all of God's good gifts. God was so generous to us. Let's remember to be generous with others.