Sunday, April 28, 2013

Watching The Green Grass Grow

Our grass has started to grow again.  I welcome the green grass and flowering trees - I welcome summer!  As much as I am ready for warm weather, it's hard to believe that the school year is coming to a close.  I know it varies exactly when it will be happening for you depending upon where you live.  For some, school dismissal occurs as early as late next month.

Summer planning is in full force, and for some moms, the schedule is already somewhat set.  Camps, vacations, pool time, summer work schedules - there are so many things that can compete for our time during a period that is supposed to be a break or breather.  It got me thinking about what the summer will hold for us, and how I want to intentionally navigate it.

The pull to be busy during the school year is of course strong, but the pull to be so in the summer is equivalent, if not stronger.  The absence of school leaves a void that is easy to fill under the guise of enrichment - or even panic.  What I am going to do with the kids?  Plus, if the kids are busy, they will stay out of trouble, right?  I know all about mischief with two little boys, but I am not so sure.

Last week I read an interesting devotion about busyness.  It was well-timed.  Its author is the head pastor of the church where I am parish associate.  Jeff pinpoints the addictive undertone of our busy culture while challenging its value.  He writes,

Today I'm reading Ecclesiastes 2:17-26.  [It reads,] "So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.  All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.  And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish?...What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?  All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest.  This too is meaningless...To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

The longing to feel significant is deeply rooted into our hearts and it is a strange impulse to figure out.  We want to feel wanted and needed.  And often we think we meet those goals by being busy.  Someone said somewhere that we think our value is connected to our velocity.  The faster we're moving - that must mean our lives are worth something.

Yet two things happen.  Our stress level goes through the roof; and though we're busy all the time we can't see that all the things we're doing actually contribute positively in any real way.  Our busyness does not lead us to significance.  In fact, as Henri Nouwen points out, we are busy and bored.  Yet we can't let it go because we've become addicted to our busyness.

We need to slow down and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  To ask, "Does this busyness flow from the work God has called me to, or does it come from my deep neediness?  Am I merely busy because I need the strokes from others in order to feel good about myself?"

In verse 26 Solomon writes, "To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness."

We no doubt have felt the urge to be busy as we make decisions about how we live our lives and how we parent.  We want happy and full lives, and we want our children to have them as well.  It is important to arm our children with skills, opportunities to be social, and achievements that can further their development.  These are all good things that can result from intentional programming.  But when our self-worth is derived from the pace of our schedules, we're in trouble.

Ecclesiastes is a tough book of the bible to swallow at face value.  Its discussion of meaninglessness casts a negative and pessimistic tone as we turn to it awaiting summer and its celebrations.  But a deeper look reveals wisdom that can lead to the pursuit of true meaning and satisfaction in life.

We need to make sure that the opportunities we are choosing aren't preventing time for more important ones.  Like seeing that friend we never have time for.  Or allowing our children to lay on the green grass and savor its warm summer smell.  If we don't teach our children to appreciate these things, who will?  And if the pace of our lives is too much for us (which I have certainly felt sometimes), then how can we expect littler people to keep up, especially gracefully?

May God be with your summer planning.  May you allow time for yourself to relax, and foster that kind of environment for your child or children.  I wish you the joy of an ice cold lemonade and children laughing.  And I believe that you can help your family have their best summer yet - bubble wand in hand and just being together.

Prayer:  God of green grass, God of laughter, Thank you for summer and your creation that comes alive.  May we honor you in our planning.  May we put you first and embrace quality time.  We know that real meaning comes from you.  Breathe meaning and true worth into our lives and families.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

To read Jeff's full entry or access his blog, click here:


  1. Reminds me of these:
    Matthew 6:25-33
    Isaiah 58:10-11
    Thanks for the post :)

    1. Isaiah's are great refueling verses, and the reminder in your verses from Matthew encourage us all to relax a bit. How important refueling time and giving things over to God in our lives is - so easy to conceive, but hard to do sometimes. I welcome summer, as it creates the opportunity to reflect upon these things a bit more. Who doesn't slow down upon feeling and enjoying the warm summer sun? Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom!


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