God rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. Genesis 2:2
Summer is the traditional time for school breaks, family vacations and shortened work weeks. The lazy, hazy days of summer? Some people live for them! Other people never get a chance to take a break from work. For me and a few others like me, a break from work is work.
I resonate with the words of Jane Austen. “Ah! There’s nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.”
With the seminarians home for the summer, the students at Bellarmine not needing a Sunday evening Mass, no priest convocations and retreats scheduled till fall and only a couple of summer priest programs scheduled at St. Meinrad, summer is a time when I get to spend some time at home.
I haven’t had a real “vacation” for a few years. As Mikhail Khodorkovsky said, “I have to travel a lot, but relaxation to me is when I am at home.” I spend most of my time at home working on writing projects and getting organized for the next busy speaking and teaching season. Even at that, I feel guilty when I work at home, even if it goes on for 10 or 12 hours a day.
I have always thought of people like me as suffering from a mild version of “obsessive-compulsive disorder,” so I looked up the symptoms. The only symptom that applied to me was the one that described people with “impulses to shout obscenities in inappropriate situations.”
Since I only had this one symptom, I guess I don’t really qualify. Maybe Arne Jacobsen described people like me best when he said, “My work interests me so much, and is so varied, that many times it seems relaxing when I go from one aspect to another.”
For those who have no time or money for vacations, let me offer an idea from my quote collection that suggests using one’s imagination to create a series of mini-vacations at home for oneself as an answer. “There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub,” said Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
For those who cannot bring themselves to stop for vacations, let me offer these quotes.
“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials,” according to Lin Yutang.
If you need to be convinced that even rest has to be productive, try this one on for size: “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop,” according to Ovid.
The ancient historian Herodotus wrote about the dangers of driving oneself to a breaking point. “If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.”
Even God rested on the seventh day.
Father J. Ronald Knott