Ah, September. Much as I have loved the summer, the amazing weather, the slower pace of life and the long, light evenings spent in the garden, I’m ready for some order and routine. I feel the need to be productive again this month.

But I’ve been learning how to find relaxation and slowness in simple pleasures. I’ve no Septemberintention of returning to a life of rushing and getting back on the treadmill if I can help it.

Summer holidays can be a time to stop and think. To reflect on our lifestyles, the little and the big things, if we choose to. If everyday life consists of rushing, trying to do too much, focussing on our to do lists, our achievements, then maybe God has intended us to take a break and just stop for a while.

If that sounds like you, I hope you’ve been able to do just that.

That sounded a bit like me too, but we’ve not had a holiday this year. Or last year come to think of it. I won’t pretend there haven’t been moments when I wished I was. Scrolling down my phone and seeing what seemed like the world and his Facebook friends on a beautiful beach, cocktail in hand, of course I could have happily been there too!

But those moments were very short lived. This year, God has needed me at home and rather than feeling resentful I’ve been savouring, relishing and honestly enjoying the simple pleasures that maybe before I might have been a bit too busy to notice.

If you’re ready for September too, but are already counting the days until your next escape, maybe you could sample the pleasures of the simple kind.

After all, if we are always worn out and counting the days until we can just stop again, maybe we’ve got the idea of living life to the full all wrong.

This year, I’ve learned to fit pockets of slow and simple moments into every single day. Yes, sometimes it’s taken discipline and it’s taken practice. But, out of necessity, I’ve taken the time to stop, to look for quiet and beauty, to notice the seasons changing, the flowers, trees and birds in the park with my dog. We could unwind gazing at the sunset on a beautiful beach, but God has put beauty all around us; we can choose to look for it wherever we are.

septemberI’ve found choosing to slow down has been an oasis, a pool of blessings. When I’ve walked in a mindful way with my dog, I’ve found myself refreshed, energised but also a lot calmer than when I’ve raced around, hurrying to get back to do the next thing. I’ve had time to think, to pray and to just listen and contemplate what God might be saying. If we want to hear that still, small voice, we need to make space.

If you’d like to try this too, I’d recommend starting small and simple and keeping it short. Maybe getting up ten minutes earlier, to sit and pray, in a chair inside or out in the garden, cup of tea in hand. Or promise yourself you’ll take a short walk in your lunch break, phone unplugged. Or even use those moments of waiting to pick the kids up, or in the supermarket queue, to stop and think, look around, to dream and wonder. A few minutes just noticing your breathing, the birds singing or the clock ticking can be enough to bring calm. The more I practiced, the more I relaxed.

Research has shown that these moments give us time to process all that is happening during the day. If we don’t, we are likely to process at night, often keeping us awake.

Psalm 65 v 8 says, Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.

May you find joy and blessings in simple moments this month too.

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