How is your summer going? Are you as busy as always, or have you had some time to re-charge? Do you have any special plans coming up?

Rest is important for our bodies and for our souls. Scripture is filled with images of rest. God rested on the 7th day in Genesis. The Sabbath is a day to keep holy, free from work, a day to glorify the Lord. Similarly, the Gospel accounts are filled with references of Jesus and his disciples retreating to a quiet place, a place of solitude after spending much time preaching to the crowds and healing the sick.

There’s beauty – and new energy – in slowing down, to take a deeper breath, to partake of the beauty that surrounds us, which on an average day we might be too busy to notice.

Here are some ways that our Novalis staff is planning to use their summer time to get the rest they need and enjoy the beauty around.

Like most of us, I find that there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything I’m trying to do. But having a bottomless to-do list isn’t productive, and it’s definitely overwhelming at times.

This summer, I hope to step back and look at my various commitments to see where I want to put my energy over the next year or so. I have a feeling that I can let go of a few things to create some breathing room. Part of that process will involve detaching from my computer/phone/e-reader for a while every day and spending time outdoors. To recharge this summer, I’d like to do more cooking under less pressure, catch up with my neighbours and explore new places in my city – without adding these items to my to-do list!

Every day is such a gift – why approach it as a set of tasks, when we can embrace the possibilities for growth, adventure, love and joy that it holds?

Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor

There is little else that recharges me more than immersing myself in God’s creation, (i.e.:, far away from the human concrete constructions). Accompanied by those near and dear to me, often with paddle and canoe, I like to bathe in forests, listen closely to the birds, the wind, the waters, and the trees. After all, we evolved as a species (homo sapiens) for some 200,000 of years listening to these same sounds, so it makes sense that such sounds are part of our very DNA!

While there, I will – just like Pope Francis does in his opening sentence to Laudao Sí – contemplate my praises to God for “our common home…like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. ‘Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.’”

Simon Appolloni, Associate Publishing Director

My wife, Nora, and I usually devote a part of our holidays to camping and hiking in the mountain parks of Western Canada. It’s always an opportunity to appreciate God’s creation and to live, at least briefly, in some harmony with that creation. This year, we opted for the 50-mile vacation, travelling twice from our home in Edmonton to the nearby and less-crowded Elk Island National Park. At Elk Island, we found that one doesn’t have to go far to discover creation’s beauty. We enjoyed glorious sunsets over Astotin Lake and hiking in the aspen parkland.

One hike was interrupted by an encounter with a large herd of bison which make the park their home. Our daughter Theresa advised that returning the way we had come was more prudent than trying to thread our way through a herd of temperamental large animals. Prudence won out over curiosity, and we followed her counsel. In this instance, harmony with nature meant respecting the space of the wildlife which call the park home. We returned to Edmonton, not recharged, but calmed, changed for now by the awareness that nature’s ways are not those of our frantic society.

Glen Argan, Former Interim Editor of Living with Christ

“Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind” (Seals and Croft, 1972) is a gentle melody about a season that is meant to soothe a busy life.

Summer is the season that grabs the baton from spring in the relay of the yearly calendar. It is a blessed time to rest, relax, and enjoy quiet moments. Summer can reconcile our bodies with our spirits. The warm days and nights of this time fill me with a joy that is different from other seasons. Silent times after refreshing swims, followed by lazy hammock swings allow for some deep prayerful experiences. I watch birds build their nests and teach their newly born treasures how to fly. Butterflies flutter about quietly landing here and there displaying their natural beauty and grace. The smell of flowers, newly mown grass and hay followed by an evening chorus of crickets are all truly divine moments. I will watch my first grandchild experience new milestones. With this comes a gentle balance of love and new surprise as I see the world through her eyes. Summer allows me to reflect on the free gifts of nature and family and be grateful. Summer makes me feel full. This is my jasmine.

Jim Dunn, Novalis author

Toronto comes alive with various festivals and events, which get me out the door, and enjoying everything the city has to offer. Whether it be an outdoor cinema evening, or an international food festival, I always feel refreshed afterwards!

When I’m on holiday, I’m always dragging friends and family around to do something ‘cultural.’ Yes, going on holiday does need to have an element of relaxation, but if I travel to a different country, I also like to experience something unique that I can’t back at home. So tasting an unusual delicacy or visiting the local ruins is a must! I can relax anywhere, even at home, that’s no problem for me.

Coming back to work having experienced something different helps me to break out of the monotony of routine, and gives me a new perspective on the world.

Another thing I love to do in the summer is wake up early in the morning, when it’s quiet, and read on my balcony. It’s not exactly a beach in Punta Cana, but it feels pretty close!

Louise Donkor, Marketing Coordinator

Summer time allows lots of great opportunities to be outdoors, most often with my two little boys in tow. My favourite activities are going for a bike ride on a local trail, swimming when the temperatures seem hot and stuffy, and going camping to our latest favourite place, Pinery Provinvial Park.

While it is difficult to completely slow down since there are always lots of chores that come with raising little children, but with the great outdoors, fresh air, sunshine, a spirit of adventure, we still manage to re-energize our batteries.

Little kids love adventure. And with that, they bring out my own sense of wonder and a desire to experience and learn new things. On any given day, my toddler is usually eager for an outdoor adventure as soon as he wakes up, shortly after 6am. When we first started biking with the kids, we stopped over by the creek where my 6-year-old caught a baby fish using the disposable paper cups we used earlier for our picnic. This newfound friend sparked Luka’s interest in fishing, which he developed further by learning about different types of fishing and building your own aquarium (thank you, YouTube!). Luka’s curiosity and creativity has been inspiring my own efforts at learning new things—be it trying a new recipe, learning a new skill, or looking for fresh activities for our family to do together.

Natalia Kononenko, Editor, Living with Christ

Wherever you are this summer, we wish you a safe and healthy rest!

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