My message this Sunday is still the same: it’s summer, and it’s hot. So find some shade somewhere, take along something cool to drink, and relax. Better yet, take along the psalms of ascent of which I spoke previously, and read them nice and slowly, in the shade. Allow me to quote more fully the psalm that I refer you to in today’s heading: “In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest, you who toil for the bread you eat; when God pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber.” Yes, we must toil for the bread we eat. All the more reason to take a break, every chance we get. And benefit from the downtime to nourish ourselves with “bread from Heaven”, in the form of words that have the power to uphold us all year long.
Elijah’s situation in today’s first reading is far more dramatic than ours, but we can draw inspiration from it nonetheless. Elijah is exhausted. The king of Israel, the northern kingdom, has threatened to have him killed. He can’t take it anymore. He lies down under a tree and mercifully, nature takes over, and he falls asleep. Upon his awakening, an angel touches him, and puts before him a cake to eat and a jar of water. Elijah eats and drinks and goes back to sleep! Upon his awakening, the angel appears yet again and makes him eat some more. In that food and drink and in that rest, Elijah found the strength to go to Horeb, the mountain of God, where he encountered God “as a light, silent sound”. 1 Kings 19,12
Given our present context of a hot summer, everything in this reading from the Book of Kings speaks to me of the wisdom – even the extreme importance – of stopping, of slowing down, of sleeping and eating and drinking, and letting God take over for a change.
Yes, life goes on, even though it’s summer. Yes, we must toil for the bread we eat. Yet I am quite certain that whatever our situation may be, we don’t have to do all the things we aspire to do. There are cool places and quiet moments beckoning to us, places and moments wherein we can rest and eat and drink and read psalms, if we will but heed their call. Forgive me for repeating myself, but by the grace of God, may we all have the wisdom during this hot summer to just slow down, sleep more, eat and drink, and turn to God’s word for inspiration and energy for the trek that lies before us, from where we now stand, to Horeb, the mountain of God.