The Bright Side
It’s that time of year again. School is back in session. The big yellow buses wind their way around the country roads picking up children. In the suburbs and cities, parents adjust their schedules to drop their kids off at school. In department stores families huddle, lists in hand, filling carts with the necessities. Baskets are piled high with new jeans and t-shirts, notebooks and folders. The beauty shops are busy, too. I went in to get my hair trimmed this week and the place was full of kids getting rid of their summer shagginess. Everyone wants to look good on the first day of school.
Years ago school didn’t start until the day after Labor Day. Now most schools start classes in mid-August. In some communities year-round school is the new thing. My educator friends tell me that some children slide backwards academically when they are out of the classroom for three months in the summer. The new trend is to have class for a few months followed by a couple of weeks of vacation. Most school systems on the continual schedule have two or three weeks each for winter and summer breaks. The school year most of us are accustomed to is based on the old farming needs, when children helped with planting and harvesting. Not much call for that anymore.
The calendar doesn’t say so, but in reality the beginning of school marks the end of summer for most of us. The leaves are still green. The temperature still hovers around 85 or 90 most days, but that doesn’t matter. The lazy days of summer are gone. No more sleeping in until 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. No more days spent doing nothing. Not many kids have those lazy days anyway. There are so many organized activities for kids these days they have almost no time to ‘do nothing.’ Even in summer, the school is busy with students coming and going for practices. The library and the YMCA run summer programs. Bible school and 4-H takes up a chunk of time for many children. The softball fields are busy until past bedtime several nights a week. Most teens have jobs too. Some children have schedules as busy as an executive. That doesn’t seem right. I am a fan of doing nothing on occasion. I think we all need that unscheduled time to just ‘be.’
When I was about 15, I went on a retreat with the youth group of our church. We had a wonderful young minister. His name was Robert Ruff. I don’t know whatever happened to him, because as often happens he was rotated away to some other church. Did he realize what an impact he had on the teens in his congregation? I hope so, we all loved him and his wife, Fran. For our retreat he prepared a session on the Bible verse, “Be still, and know that I am the Lord.” I can’t quote chapter and verse and I may have the quote wrong. That retreat was a long time ago. But the message was that we have to stop the hamster wheel we live on and “be still.” We must make time to quiet our bodies and our minds, to open our ears and our souls and listen.
I make it a frequent occurrence to sit and listen. Often an answer to a problem I am struggling with comes to me during these quiet times. Sometimes I am rewarded with a song of a thrush or a warbler. The time doing nothing is not wasted.
At that same retreat we discussed the word recreation. Recreate, was Reverend Ruff’s take on that. We need to relax, to participate in whatever form of recreation fills us up with positive energy, soothes our soul, allows us to move to a place where our minds can create. Fun is an essential part of a fulfilled life. I have used that idea when conducting workshops for women. People who give and give and give and never take care of themselves, will soon find that their well is dry. There is nothing left to give. Women of my generation seem to feel that taking care of themselves is being selfish! Imagine that.
It is almost impossible to learn anything when our mouths are open and we are doing the talking. We must be still to learn. When we are so busy trying to keep on a schedule we forget what day it is, we cannot enjoy life. I don’t think children today have enough time to just ‘be.’ I don’t think any of us devote enough time to renewing our spirit. Our lives become one stressful string of days and nights filled with too much activity. It isn’t a healthy way to live, nor a productive one. Stress creates a chemical called cortisone in the brain, that interferes with efficient brain functioning. If you and your children want to be spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally healthier take some advice given to me a long time ago by a very wise man – “Be still…”
‘til next time,
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