I hope you’ve all had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. The summer season has unofficially begun! This is the time of year when, I think, we all like to have a change of pace. It’s a time when we want get out to enjoy the great outdoors, maybe do some gardening, spend some time at the cabin, golf a few games, watch the St. Cloud Rox, take some evening walks, and simply slow-down in order to soak in the warmth and sun. (Never mind the mosquitos) One of my favorite activities this time of year is to go on an occasional bike ride. I like to take my 27-speed “Trek” for about a 20 mile tour down various parts of the Lake Wobegon Trail, a trail made famous by Garrison Keillor’s radio talk show, “A Prairie Home Companion.” I like to see the sights, hear the sounds, and even smell the different fragrances of the flowers and trees and fields along the way. Every Summer I try to make a promise to myself to truly absorb the beauty of God’s creation. I do this by trying to cut down on my schedule, avoid most meetings, and simply enjoy. Notice I said “try.” That does not always work, even when I take out my bike. On just about every outing on the trail, I say to myself, “LeRoy, let’s remember to enjoy this ride,” yet it never fails, it doesn’t end up exactly that way. I have one of those digital meters on my handlebar which gives a constant feedback on my performance. After only a few miles, I find myself looking down at my speed (14-18 mph at best) then I am checking my distance, my cadence, and then my average speed. About mile 12-15, I find myself going faster and faster and faster….and saying to myself, “Maybe I can beat the last week’s average and do a little better this time?” Really? By the time I have covered my journey, I return to my truck weak-kneed and exhausted. What happened to my leisurely stroll?
Summer is a great time to relax and enjoy, but sometimes, if you are like me, you lose focus on what’s important at the moment. Bad idea. It isn’t long before we forget what we were after in the first place, “a change of pace.” We forget what heals and what truly makes us whole. One solution: try to ignore some of the technology you have that drives you to do more and more, at least for the summer. I am not saying we should throw it away, but maybe set it aside in order to make room for more of what we enjoy. You might consider setting aside that cell phone or IPAD or laptop when you go on your weekend outings. At the very least consider putting that cell phone on “vibrate” or set it to “no ring or vibration” at all when you want to spend some quality time with family and friends. Consider checking your messages maybe only twice a day instead of every 5 minutes so you can be in the moment. Technology is good, it provides pertinent information, but it can also lead us astray. Either we learn to control technology or technology will take control of us! Finally, pause to see and smell the fields and roses on your summer way. And, don’t forget to pause and thank God where ever you are and come to church! I think going to your local parish church, even on your vacation days, has a way of compelling us to slow down. Praying with others helps keep our focus on what God wants us to enjoy throughout the day. So, as summer gets well underway, here’s hoping we all have a “good trail ride” and remember to look up and look out along the way!