In the sultry Summer heat of 1979 I turned on my Saisho radio-cassette player and heard the unmistakable warbling tones of Fergal Sharkey singing Here comes Summer. It cut through the airwaves like a hot wire through butter.
These last few weeks it has felt like 1979 again.
Of course for some it is too hot. This predictably gives our media a story a run. Canadians are always bemused when we talk about having a cold winter and equally Spaniards smile when we talk about it being too hot. However, bear a thought for the poor suffering commuters have been travelling on tubes in temperatures hotter than Bali.
On a more serious note, there have been heat-related deaths, and more than you may think. Experts believe over 760 have already died in England in just nine days. So please do keep an eye on any vulnerable neighbours. Heatstroke affects all.
When we are not talking about heat we are talking about taking an extended break to find it. More commonly known as ‘The Great British Getaway’.
Proper breaks are important. Medical experts say that the body needs a full ten days to rest. Time before then is merely recovery. Whether we are fortunate to be able to go away or have a staycation, the principle remains: Stop. Recharge. Go.
But something occurred to me about this time last year when I was planning to take my own break with the family.
You might know the creation story in the Bible. It says in the first book of Genesis that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The last of his acts was to create the human race.
Now we don’t need to get hung up on whether it was literally seven days or not, but it is helpful to look at the points and principles laid out here. When you take a closer inspection you will see that we have been encouraged to rest before we actually do any work.
Think about that for a moment. Imagine if you got a new job and the first thing your boss said was, “Don’t come in tomorrow. Have the day off. Relax. See you the day after.” You would think you have struck gold.
Most of us see the weekend as our reward for a hard week’s work. But actually, the spiritual principle here is to rest before starting the week.
A number of years ago a newspaper was launched called Sunday Business. It had as its strapline. “Sunday. First Day of the Working Week.”
While it may have appealed to the Alpha Male and Female, for many others it was a complete and utter turn off. On Sunday most of us want to switch off from office politics, not have to contemplate the classroom or consider to stock-taking on a Monday morning.
The biblical concept of taking a Sabbath, a period of rest, is not just a religious custom. Like a lot of the Bible it is rooted in practical wisdom passed on from one generation to another.
We need the space to step back, create space for ourselves, reflect on the beauty of life, cherish relationships and then advance. Wall-to-wall living is not macho, healthy or, furthermore, natural.
When we don’t rest properly we become stressed, agitated with the ones we love and become generally less productive. Left unchecked it can lead to depression and mental illnesses. All in all, not good.
Jesus spoke about not worrying about tomorrow as tomorrow has enough worries of its own. He would often withdraw from a crowd to take time out. We continue to look to his example to encourage us to find rest and know peace.
So here’s a thought.
Whatever summer reading you are planning, why not buy a cheap Bible from WH Smiths and slip it into your bag? Maybe read the first bit of Genesis. Maybe hang out in Mathew’s gospel and read chapters 5-7. There is an index at the front to help you find them.
Meanwhile, whatever you are doing, plan some fun days out. Do something different. But whatever you do, rest!
As The Undertones sung in’79,”The summer’s really here and it’s time to come out. Time to discover what fun is.”