One of the benefits of being in academia is a wondrous thing called summer break. As a teacher and as a student, these few weeks give me a change to catch my breath and regain my focus. The school year can get busy. There are papers to write, essays to grade, books to read. The further along in the year, the more it feels like I’m holding my breath, just hoping to make it until the last day of classes. Then, almost with an audible crashing sound, the end comes, summer arrives.
Despite the feeling of break, moving from burnout to rest is not an easy jump to make. Busyness has become a habit. Not to mention that list of things I don’t get to do during the school year that I now want to pack into summer’s few weeks. But if I never rest, how will I begin a new school year well? How do I find the secret to calming the soul? How does one capture the rest that is so needed in this busy world?
I have found spending time in God’s creation, especially early in the morning, has a way of creating that calm. There’s something about the wind in the trees, the waving grass, the beautiful flowers, and the shimmering water that sets the world right side up. It’s like I’m grounded again. Perhaps that is because of the quiet, the lack of cars and ringing phones. But it’s not the dead silence of emptiness, rather it’s the calming sound of peace. The sun and shade dancing with the trees, the birds and squirrels playing tag in the leaves, and the water exercising its deep quiet and power.
Then again, perhaps being among nature isn’t about the environment. Perhaps it’s actually about its Creator. Romans 1:20 explains that creation tells us about God. So maybe in some way, spending time in nature reminds our soul from where it has come. Yes, the created world is not as perfect as when God first made it; sin has taken its toll. But creation has not forgotten God like it is so easy for us to do when we’re busy.
So, if you feel like you’re drowning, try visiting a lake or mountain range, or walking in a forest or meadow. Perhaps you will also discover the rest that can help you take that much-needed break.