Written by Kathy Menard, Assistant to Campus Ministry and Coordinator of Community Outreach
When I think of summer, many things come to mind; long lazy days at the beach, enjoying a hike, days of kids waking a little later in the morning, ice cream melting down the sides of your cone because it’s so hot outside that you can’t lick it fast enough to catch it all, car windows open to catch the breeze, day trips to state parks, roller coasters, slushies. I could go on and on. I think what I love most about the summer season though is the urge to slow down, to relax a little and enjoy the sun.
School is out so there is no mad rush in the morning. No scrambling to get lunches made and breakfasts eaten. No fighting to get homework done. I try not to schedule much at all during these two and a half months of school vacation. We all just need a break. We all just need to breathe.
In my almost 50 years of life I have learned many things. One of the most important is the need to slow down, to find some quiet time, to rest. I remember times where I was so busy that I was running from dawn to way past dark. I wore only getting three to four hours of sleep as a badge of honor. Who needs sleep?
I can’t say it was one event or one thought that caused me to rethink the way I was scheduling my life. And really, it was only recently that I discovered that I needed a little “summer” in each day. I have had others tell me many times that even God took a day of rest. My response was a running joke between myself and others that I volunteer with at church, “I’ll rest when I hit my coffin.” However, they are right! Even God desired rest.
I can’t be who or what God calls me to be unless I slow down and take time to rest, to refuel. Slowing down to connect with the Source of all life. Refueling on the energy of His love, experienced in the peace of all creation and in others by allowing myself to be held in the quiet of His embrace. Re-centering myself and my purpose on the love of God and others.
I realize that rest is not something I should look forward to only two months a year. It is now something I look for every day. It may not be a whole day off or a day to myself. It may not be a weeklong vacation. Some days I grab a few minutes here or a few minutes there. It could be when I look out the window and see the sunrise before I start my run, where I just take a deep breath and appreciate the view. This morning was one of those days. I looked out to the layers of colors and clouds in the sky as the sun was coming up. I took that deep breath and thanked God for the eyes that allowed me to see and the legs that were about to carry me outside to the beautiful morning. All a gift from God.
Sometimes my rest comes while spending time with my kids, playing games, watching a movie, going for a walk, or just sitting and talking. I need to take those times and allow them to happen more often. I have been trying to find more time each day for prayer, time for a conversation with God. Occasionally, I find myself just sitting in quiet, but I need to get better with those quiet times. I don’t usually last long in silence. Too many things to do, too many things to think about. I am still a work in progress.
I do look forward to the summer months every year. Maybe it is the longer days and the warmth of the sun that reminds me to take time to slow down. Maybe it is the kids on school vacation. What I know is that I need to find this “summer” feeling and make more time for it all year long. I need to slow down, to experience all that God has given me and find rest so I can faithfully continue on.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-2