We are getting into the time of year when our thoughts begin to turn away from work and assignments and towards summer, vacation, and time off. We all need to get away from our more taxing obligations for these refreshing periods of rest and relaxation, but it can also be spiritually hazardous to think of these days or weeks as merely “free time” or a black hole for responsibilities.
One of the most important things to do in the immediate beginning of a break is to get caught up on your rest! Get back into the routine of getting a full night’s sleep, and if you have got your days and nights mixed up, perhaps get into a more humane schedule.
But once you are well-rested, I recommend doing something akin to what most religious houses and seminaries do during breaks—adopt your Summer Schedule. The idea of a summer schedule is to be gentle with yourself and relax (perhaps you won’t need to get up as early as you usually do), while still giving yourself enough of a structure to get done those things that you need, and fundamentally really most WANT, to do during breaks.
For example, maybe you don’t need to get up at 6:30am during these days, but staying up til 2am and sleeping in until noon every day of break will make it hard to pray, to read, and to exercise the way you want to during break. Deciding to get up at 8am, however, and eating breakfast, saying my morning prayers or going to Mass, and then hitting the gym could create a schedule that is BOTH restful AND nourishing for your whole self. That way, when vacation sadly comes to an end, you can think, “I’ve got some great momentum going!” rather than, “Ugh, what a waste of time.”
The Church also has some huge Feasts coming up in the next few weeks, especially Ascension and Pentecost. Consider planning your week around attending those liturgies, reading about them, or getting together with family—your blood family and also your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our spiritual life, and the whole of our life—spiritual, physical, mental—is about progress, not perfection. All time, especially during breaks, doesn’t have to be planned to the minute. A loose framework of when I will get up, pray, eat, and go to bed, however, provides a strong foundation for fruitful spending of free time. Enjoy your “Summer Hours!”
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!”