by Father Mark Goldasich
Last Tuesday, things were more boisterous than usual at The Leaven. Everyone was in a giddy mood as this is our last weekly issue until September.
Each summer, as you know, we publish every other week. There are two reasons for that. First, activities in archdiocesan parishes and organizations ratchet down quite a bit, so there’s less news to report. Secondly, the every-other-week Leaven schedule gives the staff here a chance to get in a vacation or time to relax.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We truly enjoy reporting the news, and our usual weekly format lets us get you stories in a timely fashion. But we also love the summer break as it gives us a chance to catch our breath.
Leisure is becoming a rare commodity in our world today, especially with all of the activities and technology available to us. We have difficulty keeping even one day a week relaxed, the Sabbath.
Rabbi Tzvi Marx addresses this problem very eloquently:
“Thirty-nine work activities are prohibited on the Jewish Sabbath. There is a popular misconception that these restrictions give rise to an onerous, rule-ridden, joyless day. On the contrary, the experience of observant Jews is that these well-defined guidelines make possible, every seven days, the physical and spiritual renewal which modern men and women need.
“Just visualize the feeling of liberation from the telephone, traffic jams, dislocation and responsibility; imagine having the leisure to be . . . available to your family, local friends and neighbors, able to absorb the detail of the neighborhood that you choose to live within, without the pressure to fix it, change it, resolve it, transform it; picture the periodic opportunity of carrying on a conversation with an acquaintance or a friend, finishing a story with your child or just staring into space without feeling that you are guilty of not using your time constructively. People pay a lot of money to go on structured weekends for this very purpose.
On the Sabbath, we experience time in a new way. . . . Taking a bath, making a change of clothes, setting the table decoratively, responding to the schedule of the sunset rather than the timepiece — these are aids to the difficult task of changing spiritual gear. ‘Six days shall you labor and do all your work’ (Ex 20:8). The sages of the tradition humorously ask: Is it possible for a human being to do all his/her work in six days? To which they answer: Rest on the Sabbath as if all your work were done. This capacity to shift one’s mental and spiritual state from doing to being is the crux of the Sabbath program.” (Found in Anthony Castle’s “More Quips, Quotes & Anecdotes for Preachers and Teachers.”
The best way for me to savor summer — and not waste it — is to list things that would make this season enjoyable and different from the rest of the year. A peek at my list shows visits to a number of new restaurants, especially those with outdoor seating; several day trips, including one to the Oz Museum in Wamego; a couple of SportingKC games and a few musical or theatrical productions; and riding that streetcar in Kansas City, Missouri.
What activities would calm your mind and body this summer? Liguori Publications’ “5001 Simple Things to Do for Others (and Yourself)” offers these suggestions: stargaze, wake up early to watch the sunrise, take a nature hike, visit a cemetery, have a water balloon fight, read a book, doodle, go on a retreat, visit relatives, shop at a farmers’ market, buy lemonade at a kids’ stand and memorize a new prayer.
With that last suggestion in mind, let’s ask God’s blessing on our summertime with this prayer from the Marquette University website:
“Loving God, Creator of all times and places, we thank you for the gift of summertime, the days of light, warmth and leisure.
“Thank you for the beauty that surrounds us everywhere we look: the multicolored flowers, the deep blue of the sky, the tranquil surface of lakes, the laughter of children at play, people strolling in parks, families gathered around picnic tables and the increased time to spend with family and friends
“As we open our eyes and ears to the landscape of nature and people, open our hearts to receive all as gift. Give us that insight to see you as the Divine Artist. . . . And warm our souls with the awareness of your presence.
“Let all the gifts we enjoy this summer deepen our awareness of your love, so that we may share this with others and enjoy a summertime of re-creation. Amen.”
That’s all, folks! See you here in a couple of weeks!