Although the poem ‘Leisure’ (from which the quotation comes) was written in 1910 by the Welsh poet W. H. Davies, it is as pertinent a question now as it ever was, not least as we look forward to the summer break.
I am sure that in all our busyness we often ask ‘What is life all about?’ ‘Why are we here?’ ‘Is this it?’ It’s sometimes difficult to keep life in perspective. So much of it is about ‘achieving’ instead of enjoying. How often do we ‘pause and smell the roses’. Much energy is spent on saving time. To do what? To allow time to smell the roses? Or to save time in order to cram in more activity.
August is a time to pause, and, yes, perhaps to smell the roses.
One day, on my commute to London, opposite me was a mother and her child. The child was very subdued (probably because she was up so early!) and the mother was being very attentive to her. At one point she put the child on her knee and turned to the window, and said, ‘Oh look, the sun has come up and we weren’t watching . . .’ Suddenly that one phrase summed it all up for me . . . the sun had come up and we were not watching. That quite ordinary scene beyond the railway track ceased to be yet another sunrise. Maybe you have had such experiences when suddenly you become aware that there is more to life than your present activity.
August is a time to pause and to wonder. The August break is there to give us time to be refreshed, to smell the roses, yes, and to stand and stare. We all need a physical break. But we also need time to be refreshed spiritually too.
The Psalms often take the witness of creation to speak of God’s love. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to make us more awake and aware of our life in Jesus and to lead us in fresh discovery and in a fresh response.
It’s the Spirit’s work to make the connections, through Jesus, between God and ourselves, drawing our attention to this, to that, opening our eyes. Isaiah 11:2 called this ‘the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and knowledge’.
Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it in abundance.’
Maybe the Sun/Son has risen for you, but are we in danger of missing the dawn?
This August let us hear the still small voice and see that slender shaft of light . . . and wonder.
There are God given moments in every life when something strangely beautiful claims our attention and demands that we stand and stare.
Let us pray for one another this August, have a great summer.