So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” Psalm 55:6
“Sometimes you have to be really busy in order to enjoy the relaxation of fishing” was my son’s answer to the question of what made fishing enjoyable. As a young boy, Ethan had tried fishing with his friends on a few occasions. Terry was more than willing to take his son fishing but had no love for the sport himself. Ethan never caught anything and quickly lost interest. But an overnight camping trip with his in-laws on Memorial Day changed his perspective. He enjoyed fishing and hopes to continue in the future.
The saying, “take time to stop and smell the roses”, as well as Ethan’s answer, speaks to a truth that we all deal with at times. Sometimes there are seasons of being busy where we don’t take time to relax. And then we pause for a minute during this busy season and find simple hobbies relaxing and refreshing. But all too often I find myself resorting to activities or habits that are not life-giving or restorative.
I recently received a message on my Goodreads app that I am behind schedule in my reading challenge. It was a little jarring to see that I had only read 12 books this year. This spring was jam packed with wedding preparations. By the time I got to bed, I claimed I had only enough energy to scroll a few minutes on my phone. Holding a book seemed difficult and cumbersome. Yet, some of what I was scrolling through was only raising my blood pressure, not relaxing me. I found myself getting caught up in the drama of the #churchtoo crisis. This is a legitimate issue to be concerned about and it should be addressed, but in a season where I was already exhausted, it was not bringing peace into my life. Looking back, a few pages of poetry or a chapter of a book would have been more life-giving.
The other observation I made during my busy season was that I didn’t spend enough time taking walks outside, even short ones. Spring passed by in a whirl. I hadn’t been to the park to see the trees fill out, or daffodils bloom in my neighborhood. Before I realized it, my peonies were already blooming, and weeds were popping up in my flower bed. Again, I was legitimately busy, but I am sure I could have found thirty minutes to get out for some fresh air. Maybe they wouldn’t have been the power-walks I normally take where I break a sweat, but they could have been short walks that restored.
Not everything I did during this busy season was negative. I did take some time to be with friends both on the phone and in person. I made a conscious decision to listen to my body and often chose sleep over exercise. I listened to story-telling podcasts like “The Storied Recipe” and “River Café Table 4” that inspired and encouraged me. And I chose to eat healthy food that nourished my body.
Busy seasons are still just seasons, they should never become a way of life. But in those seasons, I need to pay attention to what is life-giving and what is not. A simple walk or reading a few pages in a book are better than scrolling on my phone. And when I make mistakes, like I did this past season, I need to be honest with myself and make some changes, so these life-draining habits do not become a way of life.
I recently listened to Annie F. Downs interview John Eldridge on her “That Sounds Fun” podcast concerning his new book “Resilient”. He discussed how summer is a good time to be purposeful in planning restorative activities. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and life seems to slow down a bit in summer. He encouraged people to plan purposeful activities that encourage you to play and bring restoration.
My summer is just starting, and I have roughly ten weeks to take in the joys of summer. I plan on trying kayaking for the first time along with hiking some new trails. I also plan to read some great fiction, and visit some new farmer’s markets and towns in PA. I also want to take walks, soak in the sun, and experiment with new recipes using seasonal vegetables. I am going to be intentional in spending time with my husband, creating new rhythms in this season of life. And I am going to follow the advice of John Lubbock, English parliament member and philanthropists, “Rest is not idleness and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means waste of time.”