Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.
-George Gershwin, 20th century
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
-Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29, (The Message)
Summer has arrived. We have past the longest day of the year with the Summer Solstice this past week. Schools are on summer break. And life is supposed to slow down and take on a different pace. WHEN???!!???
I don’t know about you, but I keep waiting for the schedule to ease up and it does not seem to be happening. All sorts of things I have been waiting for summer, and an easier schedule to appear, so I could catch up on them, work them into my schedule, pay them more attention, and they continue to wait.
A big part of the problem is our approach to TIME. In our breathless world sufficient time often seems elusive. Our responsibilities leave little if any residue of time for “spiritual” pursuits. Someone once wryly observed that if we exercised as we should, spent appropriate time in prayer or meditation, worked full time, gave “quality” attention to our spouses and children, participated in community and church activities, and got a full night’s sleep, we would need significantly more than twenty-four hours in a day!! Our time is overstuffed, like luggage into which we have tried to cram too many necessities.
The result of such packed schedules is that the one thing we either don’t schedule, or if we do put it on the schedule, it is often the first thing to be tossed aside when we run tight on time, is REST. There is a subtle arrogance in the failure to claim rest – I am so important I have no time to rest – and a collusion with the contemporary world which rewards busyness but neglects rest time for and with the Creator.
We forget that God rested on the seventh day after creating all the cosmos, world, plants, animals and human beings. And Jesus often went aside from the crowds and his disciples and sought quiet time of rest with God. Sabbath – a day of rest, a period of rest – is an important concept for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and we ignore it at our peril.
What Jesus seeks to remind us of in the quote from Matthew’s gospel above and what God offers us with the command to keep the Sabbath and rest is a gift of “balance.” Our lives get lopsided when they are too stuffed with activity, so packed down with things to do that we have no time to “be.”
Let me offer a simple prayer written by Paul W. Chilcote titled The Gentle Way. You might use this prayer at times throughout the day when you are particularly busy and feeling stressed; or at the end of the day as a reminder to seek balance. Find the way that is helpful for you, but most importantly, find balance and rest.
Gracious Lord, rest of the weary and gentle guardian of the way;
come alongside me and ease my burden, for I offer myself to you
as the apprentice of your gentle and humble way
that I might find repose in you in the course of my days
and throughout all eternity. Amen.
R. Steven Hudder
Pastor, Christ Congregational United Church of Christ
Palmetto Bay, Florida