How I’m learning to live with more peace and less frenzy this summer

Monday night I returned from my last trip of this season, a trip to Maine and Acadia National park, a place filled with rocky coasts, piers stacked with lobster traps, and fishermen working early morning boats in the bay.

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After getting back from England and finally getting over jet lag, it was strange packing up the suitcase again. Usually we take a family vacation or go to a reunion and then come home and settle into summer’s gifts: the long evenings, dinners on the patio, grilled kebabs and evening dips in the local pool.

But when we had the somewhat last minute chance to join the England trip, we couldn’t say no, not when we knew that opportunities like this don’t come around everyday.  So we planned for two vacations this summer: our regular family vacation and our trip to England, which means I’ve been living out of a suitcase more than normal this summer.

Though I’ve missed my delphinium at its peak, strawberry picking at the farm and the sweet comfort of my own bed (Is there anything better?) one of the things I’m learning is that rest is good and that finding a new routine, one with fewer appointments, is healthy for me.

I tend to schedule and organize, and am not very good with downtime.  But these weeks of travel have taught me to watch and listen more, to rest in the rhythm of a new schedule, even though I am not producing anything of value. Instead I see the value in what it does to my soul, losing the frenetic pace of life, the weekly grind that so many of us have to endure twelve months a year.

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In a world where we value productivity over a healthy pace, taking a vacation bucks the system of more hustle, teaching us that it’s okay to sit and listen to the fishermen’s boats on the water or bird calls in the woods, or to lay on the beach and watch satellites in the night sky.  These are lovely ways to spend an evening, despite what the world will tell you.

The effects of rest can be measured by our reaction to things that go wrong. 

When it rained for two days, we didn’t complain.  We ventured out and hiked a mountain and got soaked to the bone doing it.  We repeated something we heard from a Scotsman:

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

When my camera broke in the rain, I didn’t freak out.  Disappointed? Yes, but not to the point where I annoyed my family with a snarky attitude.  It was a camera.  It could be replaced.  Vacations tend to balance us out, like an iron flattening out the wrinkles of our soul.

On the last night when we had to scramble to find something to cook, I decided to follow the locals. We went over to the local fishmonger, bought some fresh haddock, then grilled it in foil, seasoned with butter, basil and coarse salt.  It was the best white fish I’ve ever had, by accident of course, which taught me that life sometimes is best in the unexpected moments when we change direction, follow the wind and see what’s around the next corner.

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I have a lot on my plate the next few months: a new show, some writing I’m in the middle of, potential work opportunities and more fun things on the blog. Creative work needs a soul that’s fresh instead of weary, ideas that have had time to percolate instead of thrown together last minute. This is when I do my best work, when I’ve had time to rest and think, experience and feel.

I hope in the hustle of summer, you can find rest too, whether that’s at the beach or at home, on a walk or in a park.  Sometimes carving out that time is difficult, maybe even the most courageous thing you’ve done this summer, but let’s fight the fear that our worth is in what we do. People will value and love us even when we have nothing to offer.  In these still, small moments we learn where true rest is found.

My soul finds rest in God alone. (Psalm 62:1)

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Thanks, friends, for your encouragement on the blog, for your challenging words, for your stories and comments, for the bits of life you share with me.  I treasure them. May you find some rest in these long summer days, no matter where the journey is taking you, no matter what season you are in.   May shalom be in those moments, filling your soul for the long days ahead.

Sara

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