From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes
tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.
There was a tradition in my home town of Glen Ridge, New Jersey. It was not a particularly good or admirable tradition. Every year on the last day of school, children would pour out of the Middle
and High Schools, assemble on the bridge overlooking the rocky glen for which our town took its name, and with the inexpressible joy that only freedom from the drudgery of school can bring to young hearts, hurl the content of their three ring binders off the bridge into the stream below.
In the matter of a few minutes, the picturesque glen would be covered in paper. So began Summer Vacation in our little corner of the Garden State … with a collective assault on the only piece of public green space in our whole town.
As I say, it wasn’t a particularly admirable tradition. Still, it served its purpose of marking off one season from another. The highly regimented life of the school year was past; and a few, fleeting weeks of freedom awaited.
In any event, summer will always remain that time we wait upon … a season where we can permit ourselves a little rest, a season where we give thought to other priorities perhaps, a time away from town, or simply time spent in more restorative pursuits.
And if we don’t, we probably should. There was a time in our history when seasons of rest provided a healthy balance to seasons of work.
Within the early books of the Hebrew Bible, our Christian Old Testament, there is an undercurrent of conflict between the older, agrarian social and economic systems that marked the life of early Israel, and the emerging urban commercial one that was beginning to evolve.
It was more than mere nostalgia for the older, nomadic and egalitarian life of ancient Israel that drove this tension. It was a sense that something was lost in the transition, among them the human need to find a healthy rhythm and balance between work and rest.
Out of this creative tension arose the idea of Sabbath – the notion that we are at our best when we determine to set aside a time to be at peace.
I hope that as summer approaches, that God blesses you with times of rest, of reflection and restoration.