As summer rolls into August, we know that we are entering the home stretch of the holiday season. Most of us really enjoy our summer holidays, particularly when the weather co-operates. Earlier this summer it seemed like summer was never going to start. Then suddenly it felt too hot but people didn’t want to complain because we were so grateful to see the sunshine. There is something about a sunny day that can help with a sunny personality. That is why so many people move to California. But good weather alone does not guarantee the summer pause that refreshes.
I remember when I first went to Hawaii. The weather, surfing, swimming, and sights were great. The only problem with Hawaii was that I was there. I brought with myself that same sense of emptiness, that something was missing from my life. Last year, when I once again visited Hawaii, I happened to stumble upon a bagpipe ceremony for a person who had died tragically young. Just a few feet from a beautiful Hawaiian beach, I was reminded that all the beauty of creation doesn’t ultimately satisfy our inner longings. I love the beauty of creation particularly on a beautiful summer day, but the beauty of creation is meant to point beyond itself to the beauty of its Creator.
I come from a long line of overfunctioners and hard workers. Sometimes people in my family of origin have neglected the summer pause that refreshes. Sometimes they have attempted to keep going in their own strength. Sooner or later the body gets its revenge. Either we enter into the pause that refreshes or our body will force us to stop, sometimes in a rather shocking way. The Creator of this amazing world designed our bodies so that they worked best if we took pauses that refresh. That is why healthy people take regular days off. That is why summer holidays are so vital to our health. The Good Book calls the pause that refreshes the Sabbath. Similarly academics call their pause that refreshes a sabbatical. No one can function at their best on a 24/7 basis.
Because of our workaholic culture, some people do summer holidays with the same frenetic intensity, leaving them more exhausted than they started. They never pause to reflect, to enjoy, to observe, and to renew. No wonder that so many people half-jokingly say that they need a holiday just to recover from their holiday. What if in the final portion of the summer holidays, we actually rested? The heart of the Hebrew word ‘sabbath’ is ‘rest’. The Great Physician once said ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ So often our souls are weary, burdened, and restless. What if this summer we embraced the pause that refreshes? What if during this holiday season we actually rested? What if this summer we allowed the beauty of creation to point us back to the author of creation? My prayer for those reading this article is that we would each become deeply refreshed and renewed in our body, soul, and spirit.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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