Sabbath Presence at Sacred Heart

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“Summertime and the living is easy…” the Gershwin song reminds us that we are loved and have potential to soar like a bird. We should appreciate the love in our lives and be grateful for our blessings. The laid-back melody invites us to slow down and relax in the warm summer months. With the arrival of June, we should be looking for an opportunity to sneak off to a quiet, sunny place with our favorite cold beverage, a good book and just chill for a few hours (without a cell phone). Yet, so often we just switch one busy schedule to another. Maybe we are not shuttling the kids back and forth to school every day, but we are busy with work, household chores, arranging trips to summer camps, sports, travel/vacation. We don’t slow down, and the living seems anything but easy. By the time August rolls around, we are saying “Where did the summer go?”

We live in a fast-paced society and slowing down and “living easy” seems to be frowned upon. Studies show that most Americans do not take all of their allotted vacation time. Many people combine vacation time with work. We multi-task while “relaxing”, watching our children’s sports event and checking our email or playing Candy Crush while half listening to our spouse talking about everything else that has to get done today. Burn out happens when we burn the candle at both ends. We need to slow down and live easy once in a while. If not for a few weeks and the summer, how about one day each week?

A few years ago, a spiritual director recommended a book called Sabbath Presence by Kathleen Casey. The book examines our need to take some time to slow down. Find some rest and be restored physically, emotionally and spiritually. The author describes the tradition of observing the Sabbath day as a day to set aside our routine and concentrate on our relationship with our Creator, God. The Sabbath was given to the human family because God knows we need the rest and desires our time and attention at the end of one week and the beginning of the next. “Keeping the Sabbath” is more than not working, it is about offering praise and thanksgiving to God and enriching our relationship with God as well as with our family and friends. We need this vital time to maintain a healthy balance in our hectic lives.

I encourage our families not to take the summer off from church (or synagogue or mosque or house of worship). Instead, use the summer months to make it the starting point of a new week, a new day, a new opportunity to let God enrich us. Find the time for yourself and your loved ones to participate regularly in a worship experience on your Sabbath day. Even if your summer includes plans to travel, visiting a house of worship on vacation can reveal a different dynamic of worship or just give you that sense of “being at home” with God’s family in a new location. Find some time during the week for quiet prayer/meditation by visiting a place of prayer. Enjoy the quiet and some “alone time” with a God who always welcomes visitors.

Summertime spent with God can help make our living easy (or easier). We find a greater awareness of our blessings and our need for God. We begin to unwind, open our hearts and souls to God’s loving guidance and a experience a renewed energy to live our lives with greater purpose. We find ourselves living not for our calendars or cell phones but for God and our sisters and brothers in God’s family. Then maybe, just maybe then we realize it is “God time”, and the living is easy.

Have a safe, easy, blessed summer!

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