Seasons mark many aspects of our lives. There are seasons in nature, seasons in our church year, seasons of friendship and seasons of our spiritual journeys. The Easter Season of the church will soon be over, and we will move into the Season of Pentecost, also called Ordinary Time from the word ordinal, which means to be counted. Summer falls in Ordinary Time, a time when we should carefully count or mark our time. Every day matters, every day counts.
It is time to think about summer and how to practice summer spirituality. In nature, summer brings full growth, warm soil, afternoon rains, and (especially here) bright hot sun! The days are longer, the breezes are warmer and life slows down. What does summer look like on our spiritual journey? It is a time of relaxation, maybe calling for a break from the mundane or the habitual. It is a time of retreat, perhaps a time to go away literally or figuratively. And it is often a time of celebration, whether for the end of a banner year of school or the moving beyond a solemn time and into a place of peace.
I commend to you a little book called Summer: A Spiritual Biography of the Season, edited by Gary Schmidt and Susan M. Felch. This gem is a mélange of powerful and stirring pieces of writing from a wide range of sources…from eighth century China to a pioneer woman in the American West, from the Declaration of Independence to Ray Bradbury. The thread they all share is one which invites us to “experience fully the rich and bountiful spirituality of summer!”
However, what if relaxation and retreat don’t include reading for you, which is understandable, then just being is a beautiful way to celebrate summer spirituality…being more present to your self, to each other, and even to the other… being a living presence of the Love of God and letting go of all that stands in the way of that being, all the noise and distraction of the other seasons which interrupt that being. Recognizing God in all people might be just the retreat we need to count the days of summer and make them matter. Give yourself something special on this summer part of your journey. Remember the harvest time of Autumn follows, and you’ll want to have something to harvest!
A Summer Prayer
God of creation, God of the seasons,
bless your creatures with seasons of delight.
Lord of the Sabbath,
you who have established the rhythms of life,
establish in us also the rhythms for human
grant us the good sense to enjoy Sabbath rest in
Grant us, moreover, wisdom to know that there
is a time to play,
a time to cease from our labors,
a time to sense majesty in a blue sky,
richness in green grass,
love in faithful friends,
and joy in our being.
Grant us, then, blue skies this summer, and
grant us faithful friends and the time, strength,
and spirit for play.
Grant us the wit to know the goodness of this
which, blind, defiant, or ungrateful, we despoil.
Send out our roots rain; send our hearts ease,
so that we may show in our lives
that we can live rightly in this season of our
and see it as if for the first time,
in wonder, in awe, and in a spirit of thanksgiving.
~James Vanden Bosch