Bishop Neary: Make time for downtime this summer

Though it has been many years since my parents, my five sisters, and I took a cross country trip to Idaho to my grandparents’ farm, those trips are still some of the fondest memories I have of summer vacation. We had lots of family time, a relaxed schedule and we kids had a ball.

By Bishop Neary, C.S.C.

Just being able to spend 10 days with Grandma and Grandpa Schnider was what we treasured most. They made us feel so welcome, so special and so unconditionally loved.

Grandma’s sewing room had Tupperware containers filled with every kind of cookie for the taking. Grandma always taught us a fun new craft and when Grandpa gave us a ride on the farm tractor or the combine (if it was harvest time), we were beyond excited. Not being farm kids, we couldn’t wait to see the newborn piglets as well as the cows, sheep, chickens and ducks. The only animals not happy to see us were the feral cats as they didn’t want to be held!

I still remember standing in the warm stillness of the farm feeling the gentle breeze, smelling the blooming chamomile and contemplating the seemingly endless fields of wheat and barley ready for harvesting. There were always plenty of tears on the day of our departure. Yet to this day, we carry the memories of our visits there like a treasured family heirloom.

I do delight in seeing the arrival of summer in Central Minnesota and the stunning transformation that takes place in nature. Jess Lourey once wrote, “There’s about a hundred shades of green in a Minnesota summer, light like celery, deep like emeralds. You wouldn’t think one color could have so many different flavors.”

Minnesota becomes a summer haven for so many families seeking some time for rest and leisure, whether swimming, boating, fishing or attending concerts, fairs and of course, parish festivals. For much of the year, family life is tightly scheduled and often parents end up feeling frazzled and drained by their pressing daily schedules. It is good for families to have downtime, to enjoy nature together, to enjoy each other’s company and to have fun. Just as my family so looked forward to our biannual trip to Idaho, families need to look forward to a particular family getaway, whatever it may be. It allows families to rest, reset and simply be together.

Pope John Paul II once wrote, “In today’s often frenetic and competitive society, in which the logic of production and profit prevail, often at the expense of the individual, it is still necessary for everyone to be able to enjoy adequate periods of rest, in which to regain their energy and at the same time restore the right inner balance. Vacations, holidays, must be wisely used in order to benefit the individual and the family through contact with nature, tranquility, the opportunity to foster greater family harmony, good reading and healthy recreational activities; above all, through the possibility of spending more time in prayer, in contemplation and in listening to God.”

This summer, I hope that all of you can enjoy some vacation time, put aside your phones for a few hours, look into each other’s eyes and be present to each other. Take time to commune with God and with nature in all its splendor. Spend some time praying together, however simply. Let it be a time to be renewed spiritually and emotionally as a family.

I’ll leave you with a quote from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” one of my favorite movies from my teenage years, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Have a wonderful summer!

Yours in Christ,

+ Bishop Patrick M. Neary, C.S.C.

Bishop Patrick Neary is the 10th bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Author: Bishop Patrick Neary, C.S.C.

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