Well it’s finally here. Summertime! Days of waiting for that last school bell, the last carpool line, the last exam, and the last whatever else, and now we are here! It is officially summer and Americans across the country rejoice in the wonder and excitement of no school, vacations, and weeks of leisure! I was blessed to spend a week at the Outer Banks in North Caroline the last weekend in May, before summer crowds descended in droves on the sandy paradise. There isn't anything else like feeling the sand between your toes, hearing the waves rolling in, when, in the words of Jimmy Buffet, "the only worry int he world is if the tide's gonna reach my chair."
I have always had an affinity for summertime, the relaxation, and the time to unwind, to leave behind the stresses of everyday. However, recently I've noticed that I often find myself looking to vacation for fulfillment, which leads to a disappointment when the time of relaxation is over. In the midst of the season of summer, it has been important for me to enter into vacation with an attitude of thanksgiving and looking for opportunities to give of myself during my time away.
It is important that we take time to relax and unwind, but it is also imperative that we do so well. Joseph Pieper has written a great book, Leisure, the Basis of Culture, in which he expounds on our modern understanding of leisure, and how it has been distorted. Many of us see leisure as a time of consumption, entertainment, and self-indulgence; binge-watching Netflix, eating and drinking a little too much, spending extravagantly, indulging our appetites, laziness, and selfishness.
Of course, as Christians we realize that none of these are healthy ways to spend our leisure, but nevertheless, it is easy for these attitudes that surround us to creep into out hearts. Leisure in the truest sense of the word is an opportunity to reflect, to be rejuvenated, and should be the apex of our existence, rather than a small break from the daily routine, merely to recharge and re-enter that routine without having changed.
Through times of leisure (which Pieper would describe as much more than vacation) we ought to have time to reflect on what we've received and experienced and to wonder at the life we life. Leisure is an opportuity for us to adjust out attitudes! it is so much more than 'getting away from it all'. I hope that this summer you have a chance to sit in wonder at the amazing things that God has gifted you. Even through the difficult times we can always find something to be thankful for it we just take the time. Let's make this summer a time of transformation instead of simply a time to escape.