June 12, 2022 Essay: The Call to Recreation
Our liturgical calendar places us in Ordinary Time: yet this time of year seems far from ordinary. Each day becomes just a bit longer, the weather becomes warmer, and the ease of summer beckons. Schools begin to wind down, graduations wrap up the academic year and vacation requests have been submitted. I feel the lure of the lazy days of summer.
As we shift our center onto summer plans, recreation becomes our focus. For some of us, taking time off is a challenge—relaxation gets a bad rap in America. It seems antithetical to our American ideas of success. Still, yet, our souls are longing for recreation, longing to be unplugged and rejuvenated, longing for the gift of removing ourselves from our daily routines and habits.
When we are busy in our daily lives we often become oblivious to the world around us. We operate by the constructs of deadlines, schedules, and monotonous conformity. Our lives begin to feel truncated by the mundane and the routine.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover the layered meanings of the word recreation. Recreation can mean a great number of things: “an act of refreshment, action of amusing,” or, “spiritual refreshment, amusement, new birth,” or even going back to Latin, “act of restoring,” from recreāre: “to make new, restore, revive”. I long to take time this summer to become spiritually revived through the beauty of my surroundings, a break from the routine. Summer is the opportunity to recreate myself spiritually, to be refreshed and amused.
Why not use this summer to take time from our over-scheduled lives and be re-created? It is in the small, quiet spaces of unscheduled time where we get in touch with our spiritual selves. In the gentle silence, we can hear the whisper of God calling, assuring, inviting us to union with God. The call is always present, yet the constant strains of life can make us deaf to the call, blind to the signs, and too distracted to notice. Our essential selves long for conscious contact with the Divine.
There is another advantage to being recreated: through relaxed and rejuvenated lenses we can be refreshed in seeing the gifts of the world. We experience the blessing of our very existence. Our recreated vision may inspire us to aid in the flourishing of our common home. As we are revived we are energized to serve as the hands and feet working to restore the world around us.
This past weekend the Youth Group, I, and a few friends joined in the Amazing Race sponsored by the LGBT Catholics & Friends ministry. The event, part race and part scavenger hunt, had each member of our group taking on a particular task for a common mission. The park was alive with all the action of a busy spring Saturday and the amazing race was on. To get extra points in the competition we were given a list of things to photograph or video. The highlight of the afternoon was asking 4 people lounging on a blanket to join us in a videotaped dance party. They were happy to accommodate us, becoming part of our team. The fun and spontaneity of dancing in Central Park is one of the highlights of the day. In the surprise and fun of the afternoon we had new and inspiring experiences: all rejuvenating and refreshing and most of all, recreating experiences.
Take the time this summer to smell the salt air, jump in the lake, take long walks, go to the carnival. Form new communities, however short-lived, to feel the joy of spontaneity. Come back to your life refreshed with the inspiration to revive the world around you.
– Kate Noonan, Director of Religious Education