College-aged young adults make their own breakfasts, carry their own chairs to the beach, and put on their own sunscreen. That leaves little for a praying college mom to do but relax in a chair, enjoy the ocean waves, and read a good book. What heaven on earth! Isn't in comforting to know that Saint Thomas Aquinas encourages us to indulge in this kind of body and soul refreshment? He says in the Summa: "Now just as weariness of the body is dispelled by resting the body, so weariness of the soul must needs be remedied by resting the soul...the remedy for weariness of soul must needs consist in the application of some pleasure." Later he specifies that the pleasure is to be moderate, wholesome, and give glory to God. It sounds to me like a week at the beach fits his prescription perfectly. Praise be to God I can sit once in a while, toes in the sand, and relish some downtime, guilt free!
The concept of "playing well" comes up in Chapter 12 of the new And So We Pray, to be published later this summer. When we're doing something truly refreshing for our body or soul we're practicing the virtue of eutraphelia. Yes, having fun can be very virtuous.
How do you relax? Do you know what kinds of activities refresh you? Our Lord gave us vacations as times of rest. There, He gives us “permission” to practice eutraphelia.
Another aspect of relaxation this summer might be to snatch some precious moments side-by-side on beach chairs to have a long, casual, rambling, agenda-free conversation with your young adult. Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr., recommends shoulder-to-shoulder conversation for husband and wives (see marriagebuilders.com) but the same is true for you and your young adult. Conversation flows better when you're both facing the ocean, or taking a long walk together without intense eye contact. Try it sometime. Every mother I know appreciates that kind of truly soul-enriching connection with her adult child.
May you and your college-aged young adults find some blessed togetherness this summer-- a time of true rest and rejuvenation for the whole family to store up memories for the days ahead.