I’ll be honest. I consider sitting by a pool with a cool drink and Ray Bans to be the height of worthy activity during July. But before we can reapply our sunscreen, summer will be over and it will be time to get back into the frantic fervor of fall. Because of that, it’s tempted to begin organizing, planning and preparing now with the idea that we will be ready to roll when the fall arrives.
However, one of the best ways that we can prepare for the rush to come is to live fully in the moment, doing the next right thing. In July, that means allowing ourselves time for rest and recreation.
Before you object that you don’t have time to relax, remember that Jesus had only three short years to accomplish his mission, yet he took time to spend with friends, to be alone and to refresh body and soul. If he could find time for R and R, so can—and should—we.
With that in mind, what’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do in the summer? I don’t mean something major like spend a month in Italy, but something more manageable—like pick blueberries and make blueberry preserves. Or spend an entire afternoon reading in a hammock. Or use the picnic basket you’ve had in the attic for a true picnic at the lake.
How can something we do just for fun benefit our spiritual life? Learning to do one thing at a time and do it well is a hard lesson for many of us who are used to multi-tasking and feel guilty if we aren’t constantly on the go. Yet the saints tell us that being mindful and focusing on what is at hand is one of the first steps on the road to true holiness. No where do the saints tell us that we have to be mindful of only the things we dislike. We can be mindful of things that bring us joy and relaxation as well as those things that tire us and qualify as “work.” In one of those paradoxes of life, sometimes the smaller things that we never seem to get around to doing can be the most memorable and ultimately significant when we actually take time to do them. Not to mention they give us a great deal of joy, create lasting memories and are just plain fun!
This summer, honor the rhythm of life that includes both work and play by choosing one thing that will renew and revitalize your spirit and do it fully, completely and without thinking about everything else that you could be doing. Allow yourself the grace to do something you enjoy and let that enjoyment fill your heart with wonder and gratitude. In that way, you will be preparing yourself for the next season in a way that honors our God…and renews your spirit at the same time.