As one of my pastor colleagues responded recently to a question I had asked, “We’re deep into August here.” That’s one way of saying that we’re experiencing the calm before the storm. We haven’t begun our full fall program yet, and the vacation Bible camps, youth mission trips, summer camps at Kirkwood – all of those – are now part of the summer’s history. It’s a time when pastors fill in for one another to allow much-needed vacation and study-leave time away. August is a good month for those things.
August also allows all of us to prepare for the scheduled days soon upon us and to make use of opportunities in these more relaxed days for personal “re-creation.” There is a difference between the word “recreation” and “re-creation.” The dictionary recognizes that with the hyphen. It’s the “re-“ factor that means so much to the human spirit. Some of that act of “creating anew” – re-creation – can actually come from activities of recreation, the fun things we children and adults do when we have the time and freedom to do so. But re-creation can come from any number of other sources, not necessarily those that involve strenuous activity or travel to distant places. Quiet hours of meditation just where we are can lead to the important act of refreshing the spirit (no hyphen needed here, though the meaning is similar).
A source of re-creation for me occurs every summer during the days when my family gathers for a time together in northern Vermont. We just returned a week ago so the experience is still vivid in my heart and soul. We share times of recreation there, of course, but the best moments are those spent simply looking out and upward as the clouds continue their constant movement over the mountain tops. In that quiet yet ever-changing celestial patterning of billowing clouds one is drawn into thoughts of eternity and the wonder of creation. Those moments invariably bring me to introspection around the mystery of existence and re-create my spirit for those moments and those yet to be.
Our theological reference for such time, of course, is the Sabbath, that time which finds it origin in Genesis 2 where we are told God rested after creating the world, blessing it, and placing it into the hands of human beings to be God’s faithful and responsible stewards. That time of rest found its liturgical future in a day of the week given over to God for worship and spiritual re-creation. So it continues to this day. But that day alone is not enough, important as it is to our continuing life of faith.
The larger context draws us into the reminder that within all life we can find times of re-creation when our spirits are lifted upwards into the eternal mystery of God. May we seek those moments among and within us now, even in these waning days of summer.