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How to beat the heat!

Editor’s Note: In a nod to our Presbyterian heritage, we regularly feature a column from a PMMA® chaplain in our newsletter. This month’s column comes from Greg Schmidt, chaplain at Newton Presbyterian Manor®

July is here…and so is the heat! And what’s the best way to “beat the heat?” Look for a vacation spot that offers a cooler climate, right?!

When I was a kid—and into my young adulthood—my favorite getaway trip was to church camp in the Rockies. Over the years, I progressed from camper to camp counselor to camp director, and in the latter position, I introduced the Mennonite Brethren church camp world to Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting Co.! That added a few “ice cold” stories to all the others!

But what happens when you cannot “escape the heat” of life’s daily battles? How does one find ways to rest or relax in place? You may not like my answer. I believe every one of us desperately needs to allow our hearts and minds to find comfort by taking us away in our thoughts to a place where we’ve experienced the love, grace, forgiveness and peace from God and (Christian) friends that have always been there for us. It is never good to stay forever pinned down to our inevitable problems. We must be able to escape. Mental respite is a must!

I’m simply suggesting we ask God to let our minds take us to places we otherwise cannot go. I accomplish that by beginning where Jesus did—in prayer. When we ask God to help us recall those places, people, and moments when we perceived life as less troubled, less complicated, less corrupted by pain or disease or situations that caused us fear or panic, we discover peace.

Our prayer should then shift to a state of productive meditation, staying in that personal place and allowing God to “heal” my body, spirit, and soul to the degree that my burden or worry is temporarily suspended. Just as our physical body needs at least four hours of deep sleep before it can even begin to be restored and re-energized, our hearts and souls need sustained rest as well. A break from being bombarded by the challenges of everyday life, especially when those challenges include dealing with death and dying realities.

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.” The Psalmist is figuratively describing an internal need—a “thirsting after”—the One he believes will replenish his innermost needs. He doesn’t imagine a sip; he wants to drink deep. To do that will take time. It doesn’t happen on the fly or instantaneously.

Why would he make that request? Because life is pinning him down. He’s needy. He’s stressed out. Because the pursuit of those people and situations that set out to do harm or destroy him are bearing down on him. Because sustained rest is the only thing that will restore his life and vision. The image of a deer so at peace with her surroundings that she can stop and without fear, lower her head to the stream to take a long, needed drink, in complete peace, is inspirational to the Psalmist. So, he sets in place in a cave and meditates on what it would be like if he too, like the deer, could drink deep from the cool, refreshing resources of all that God has to offer.

We desperately need rest, especially when we’re facing “life and death.” Why? So that we have the resources and strength to fight life’s battles. Each of our Manors and communities, as well as our Heart & Soul Hospices are about finding rest for our patients and their families. And we get that needed rest when we choose to live and enjoy every moment God gives us rather than giving in to the pain, frustration, and discouragement that disease and discomfort naturally bring.

So, right where you are, ask God to allow your heart and mind to travel to your vacation spot, your resting place. Not only do you need it, you also deserve it! And unlike making a booking with Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting Co., it won’t cost you a thing!

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