“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened …” During summers in Oshkosh (the “Event City”), it seems that just as one group of people is taking down their tents following Country USA, another is putting theirs up for Rock USA. In addition, the city plays host to Lifest, a weeklong event for Christian youth and families, and, of course, the much-anticipated week of EAA AirVenture.
People who labor and are burdened come to Oshkosh for rest and relaxation, but it’s hard work for the organizers. I doubt they ever think of themselves as participating in Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” For that matter, with the possible exception of Lifest, the attendees are probably not thinking much about Jesus, either. They come to listen to the music (but who gave those musicians all that talent?) and to enjoy the food and drink (and who created the ingredients that go into that food and drink?). They come to leave their responsibilities (“labors” and “burdens”) behind and, for a few days, become like children (the “little ones”).
Studies show that workers in the United States take fewer vacation days per year than in almost any other country in the world. Three, four, or even six weeks of vacation is standard in many countries. For most Europeans the idea of only two weeks of vacation (and many U.S. workers don’t even take that) is ludicrous. And even when we do go on vacation we find it hard to leave our work behind. Instead, we continue to check in via mobile phone, Wi-Fi and seemingly endless apps!
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Today God is inviting us to take time out from our work to rest and to see again as children see. Will we, like the “wise” and the “learned,” insist that we don’t have time? Or will we, like the “little ones,” lie down on the grass and watch a cloud turn from a turtle into a giraffe?
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.