One of my favorite things to do as a priest is spend time in the parish school. Children have a wonderfully simple way of looking at the world and often reach insights that adults miss out on. Not long ago one student asked me: “If God is so strong and great, after making the world, why did he need to rest on the 7th day?” It was a good question, and it got me thinking, why did God rest on the Sabbath? Does He need rest?
We certainly need rest. Without rest we can get short tempered, our work suffers, and we can burn out. So especially during the summer, or even just throughout the year on weekends, we look for moments to unwind and recover from all that keeps us running around. And once we are well rested, we can get back to work with a renewed energy and focus. This is often how we think of it, but if that’s all rest really is, God certainly didn’t need it.
What God teaches us though is that rest about more than just recovering our energy so we can do more work. In the Scriptures we see that after He creates something, God stops and admires how good it is. He doesn’t create just for the sake of creating, but He pauses to celebrate and enjoy His creation. So too for us, the whole point of the Sabbath is that we’re meant to stop on Sundays, not just to escape work, but to actually spend time on what’s truly important. We’re meant to rest so we can appreciate what life is all about, remembering: I live for my family, I live for my faith, I don’t live for work.
So maybe this summer we try to take time not just to zone out in front of the TV, but to focus on the things that we say are important to us, and actually treat them like they are important to us. This might mean spending a little more time with family, reaching out to homebound or distant relatives. Or maybe it means catching up with friends we haven’t had time for. It might even mean giving God a bit more attention. Because it’s only when we do take time to smell the roses, that we can celebrate those beautiful gifts in our lives. It’s only when we stop and listen to the little ones among us, that we remember the simple truths of what life is all about.