In search of a seasonal slowdown


Summer is drawing to a close here in southern Indiana.

I realize summer doesn’t actually end until late September and the advent of the autumn equinox. But for most people, summer comes to a close when the local schools reopen.

At a minimum, the start of school signals the end of all of the extra events and experiences that make summer a season to look forward to. For those of us in Jackson County, the summer ends during the first week and a half of August.

Our summer running is done. Vacations, church camps and mission trips, weekends at the lake, trips to amusement parks and festivals and fairs are all behind us. Before us lies the monotony of schedules and the circadian rhythms of the everyday and ordinary. For some, this is cause for great mourning and lamentation. For others, however, there is a quiet sense of relief that the insanity, as amazing and enjoyable as it may be, is over.

I confess I find myself being in that latter category. I love the warmth of summer and the extra time I get to spend with my wife and kids, and I very much enjoy the various activities in which I get to participate and lead during the summer. But as I survey my summer schedule, I often feel it’s over before it has even begun. The excitement of summer is tainted by a pervasive sense of anxiety surrounding the nonstop activity that comes with it.

I’m guessing many of you can relate. While your summer schedule may not be filled with conferences, camps and mission trips, it is likely you have other activities filling calendars. There are travel teams for various sports, an ever-expanding slate of summer workouts for school teams, family reunions and gatherings of various lengths and at some point in all of that insanity, you try to shoehorn some semblance of a vacation.

It’s no wonder we come to the end of summer and find we need a vacation from our summer vacation.

I believe the insanity of the summer season is simply an amplification of the way we live life in this day and age. We are in a state of perpetual motion. There is always somewhere to go, something to do or someone/something to see. We struggle to slow down, much less come to a full stop, lest we miss something.

There is a perpetual pandemic of FOMO (fear of missing out) that plagues our western world. Often, we struggle to enjoy what we are doing in the now because we are so busy preparing for and anticipating whatever comes next.

We need to learn to slow down, to create time and space for our souls to breathe, our minds to reset and our bodies to rest. I recently heard this quote: “Keeping busy is a great diversion, but it treats the symptom and not the cause.”

It reminds me of how toddlers often function when they are tired. Rather than stopping and allowing their tired bodies to sleep, they become even more active, jumping from one thing to another in order to avoid the plain truth: They need to stop. While we like to believe ourselves to have grown out of such childish tendencies, perhaps this is one aspect that simply grows along with us.

The call to be still can be found in multiple places throughout the Bible. It is interesting that the mandate to rest is found at the dead center of the Ten Commandments.

But what really jumps out at me is the example of Jesus himself. In Mark 4:38, we find an example of Jesus taking a nap in the bow of a boat, in the middle of a storm no less. Even as there was a flurry of activity going on all around him, Jesus took time to rest.

Just a few chapters later, in Mark 6:31, we find Jesus leading his disciples to do the same. We also can find numerous examples of Jesus taking time to be still and quiet to connect with God in prayer. If Jesus, the perfect son of God, needed moments of stillness and rest, surely, we do, as well.

The common refrain in ministry circles is that things will slow down in the next “season.” Apparently, it is a joke and a lie we all tell ourselves. As we move from the season of summer to the season of school, things will only get better or be different if we adjust our actions. As we enter the everyday and ordinary of life, may we be intentional about finding time to slow down and rest.

Just because there’s space on the calendar and a cool opportunity on the horizon doesn’t mean we need to fill the space or do the thing. Perhaps the better, more healthy option would be to stop, to take a nap or to sit in the stillness and silence for a little while.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].

No posts to display