I’m an educator, and yes that means (generally speaking) summer is indeed a break from the regular rhythm of the school year…and yes, we educators are blessed to enjoy time off that most other industries don’t have the luxury of. I like to refer to summer holidays as a teachers’ Sabbath. It’s an intentional break and most educators use it as a time to relax, reflect, re-charge, and re-energize themselves for the next school year. It really can be a “holy time” in the rhythm of a Christian educator’s life.
This is the time of year when we come back to school, when the most common question asked is “How was your summer?” And instead of the typical answer, “Yeah, it was good; I spent some quality time with friends and family and got away a bit…”, I will attempt to provide you with a larger context of what I experienced over the course of the summer, indicating that my summer was a positive one and meeting the goals of my “Sabbath.”
Here are the top 9 indications that my summer was a good one:
Goal #1: Travelling out of town. I am one of those people who can’t really relax (or even stop working) unless my physical body is actually out-of-town.
Accomplished? Check! Our family travelled to Ontario for a family reunion (my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary), to central California to visit Heidi’s parents and spend a long weekend with my son, Eliot, for a new tradition called, “grad trip with dad.”
Goal #2: Spending quality time with family outside of the routine. This one is related to the first, but not entirely. The summer is way outside the regular school year routine for our family (and I suspect for most families). Engaging in uninterrupted, meaningful time with members of our family is priceless.
Accomplished? Check! A new phase of our lives this summer was having all three of teenagers working during the day. Heidi and I found ourselves starting to practice for what it’s like to be “empty nesters.” Uninterrupted time at our home together? What a gift!
Goal #3: Supporting our kids in the next phase of their life: full time employment over the summer, a lot of free evenings to be social with friends, a lot of free time to play video games (or fight with their parents after their “screen time is up”).
Accomplished? Check! Even after putting in a lot of hours at places of employment, Heidi and I spent a lot of time taxiing the kids around to support their social lives.
Goal #4: Watching an entire Toronto Blue Jays game—not just the highlights of Blue Jays in 30! I love baseball; it’s such a fun sport to watch. However, it’s become clear that the pace of baseball bores many North Americans and they prefer to catch the highlights. Not me. I love the nuances of the game: so much strategy and athleticism wound together—amazing.
Accomplished? Check! I watched a lot of Blue Jays games and even attended a few MLB games live with Eliot, who is becoming an even bigger fan than I am.
Goal # 5: Caring for the plants in our yard. Education is the type of job that doesn’t provide a lot of tangible and immediate feedback, so when I can cut the grass or work on the flowers or trim the trees, I find joy and seeing and experiencing the work of “tending to the gardens” etc.
Accomplished? Check! I spent many an hour working on our yard and at my in-laws in California helping with their beautiful yard.
Goal#6: Reading a book or two that provides new meaning in my life.
Accomplished? Check! I actually read a couple books, but one of them had a much more profound effect than the other. The book, “The Second Mountain” by David Brooks is an incredible, non-fiction description about where we can find pure joy (versus the pursuit of happiness that the world leads us to believe). Turns out that pure joy is mostly found in serving others—who would have thunk!
Goal #7: Finding it inspiring and invigorating to come back to work on a full-time basis. I often love learning a bunch of things that I want to implement right away at school (often through reading, through blogs, through powerful TED Talks or podcasts and even through connections with friends and/or family who work in similar settings). I get so excited about coming back to school to put these thoughts and ideas into practice.
Accomplished? Check! My father has been a Christian school administrator for the better part of his life and I spent significant time with him this summer, enough to learn a few new nuggets. My brother, in Ontario, is also a Christian school leader and he never fails to provide me with at least one exciting new thought or leadership tip to consider. I also really appreciated and learned from some new TED talks and podcasts.
Goal #8: Laughing out loud—a lot. I’m often told that in the midst of the busyness of life, I sometimes forget to laugh out loud. Summertime helps with this.
Accomplished? Check! Spending time with my siblings always provides a lot of time for laughing, as well as reconnecting with old friends in both Ontario and California.
Goal #9: Wine Tasting with Heidi. In terms of my relationship with my wife, this one might be a little selfish because of my affinity for fine wine, but it’s a tradition that truly connects us.
Accomplished? Check! Heidi and I made it to some new places (for us) in West Kelowna and Peachland. We did a tour with my family in Ontario (Beamsville Bench) as part of the anniversary celebration, and then Heidi and I took her parents up to Sonoma county (our favourite “new world” place) for a wonderful day. I’m convinced that the creation of vineyard terroir, grapes growing in vines, the harvest crush, wine-making abilities and aging the juice to perfection is one the Lord’s greatest creations. I’m pretty sure this is what He meant when He said, “And it was very good” in the creation account of Genesis.
So—I think it’s safe to say that my summer “Sabbath” was a good one. How was your summer?