It is Labor Day weekend and it would appear most the people I know are quite busy. Folks have gone to the lake for the weekend, taken mini-vacations, planned picnics or had family reunions. All of these things are certainly fun and good in and of themselves. I wonder, however, if we might not be wiser to spend Labor Day weekend resting from our labors. Our work life causes most of us to run at a steady if not hectic pace. We are on the go constantly and eventually this catches up with us. A number of studies have indicated that one thing a lot of Americans lack is rest. We are quite good at doing things and being on the go but what we are not so good at is being still and resting.
Several years ago I came across a poster that had the following prayer by Wilfred A. Peterson written on it: “Slow me down, Lord. Slow me down! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me amid the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations, of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise, that I may know that the race is not always to the swift—that there is more to life than increasing its speed. Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well. Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.”
I have to return to this prayer periodically to remind myself to slow down. The pace a lot of us keep is not good for either our physical or spiritual health. We were never meant to go full-speed all of the time. God instituted the Sabbath so that we would remember that life is not just about work and doing things. Neither our bodies or our souls were designed for constant activity. If we are to enjoy life more completely and experience God more deeply we must learn to slow down. In Psalm 46:10 we hear God say “Be still, and know that I am God.” One of the reasons some of us do not feel God’s presence more or see the divine presence in Creation is that we won’t slow down enough to be still.
I hope each of you have a wonderful Labor Day. By all means do something fun if you can but I encourage you also to take some time to rest from your labors and be still. That is good advice not just for Labor Day but every day. Now if I can just remember to do so myself…
(I took the top image at Mt. Baker National Recreation Area, the middle image at Olympic National Park, and the bottom image at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.)