R.I.P. - An Ode to Summer
A few years back, my kids would occasionally use the word “RIP” to designate a comic fail or error. It didn’t occur to me that “RIP” was a modern shorthand for “Rest in Peace” and was associated with the end or death of something. My only previous experience with R.I.P was confined to the dignified, respectful way those letters are used on older tombstones across North America.*
After a year of messed-up schedules, lockdowns, and the inability to travel, I know that many of us have the healthy need for a change of scenery and a break from the chaos. Quite simply, we need to RIP — rest in peace!
At Elmhurst CRC, we deliberately take the month of July off from evening administrative meetings to rest, recover, and re-energize for the work ahead. Of course, we will maintain our regular rhythms of Sunday worship and Sabbath celebration, but this pause from regular church business affords some extra time and space to lean into relationships and more casual ways of being together simply for friendship’s sake!
If you find yourself on the wrong side of the fatigued-to-exhausted continuum, you are not alone. My pastoral counsel for pretty much everybody these days is to slow down and receive the gift of long, warm, sun-filled summer days, and — if at all possible — to do a little less and enjoy a little more. Reunite with friends. Be with your extended family. Reconnect. Remember.
Jesus understood the need for a break from the drivenness of life — even from a life of service in his name. I love these words of his recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
So many of us are weary and burdened these days. So many of us could use a whopping dose of rest for our souls. Perhaps this summer, you could give yourself over to this part of Jesus’s agenda for you. You could begin by prayerfully seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance for what would be truly restful for you this summer and then leaning into that.
One final thought: I’m feeling a little bittersweet on the topic of “RIP” after the passing of Cleo, our cat of 18 years. My wife and I shed some tears a few weeks back as she was put down by the vet in the midst of organ failure. I stand amazed at how animals, despite their lack of verbal and rational powers, can work their way so deeply into our hearts and affections. This cat was a very skilled therapist and was a great ally in raising and comforting our kids. She knew when to engage and when to nap. Truly a master of rest. But, this cat’s work was done! So, in gratitude for a life well-lived, rest in peace, little cat.
Wishing you all a feline level of rest, recovery, and naps through the heart of this summer.
* To take this to an even deeper level, R.I.P. originates from the Latin “requiescat in pace” translated as “rest in peace” in English. RIP can be found on tombstones of Christians dating back to 400 A.D.