June 21, 2022
This is what summer looks like in our backyard, thanks to the resident gardener in our house.
Each time I walk from the backdoor to the garage or look out the kitchen window or sit, book in hand, on the patio, I am reminded to savor this season and to notice the gifts of God in these days and in our lives.
If you are an ongoing reader of this blog, you know that I am not a summer person. I am a winter person who relishes hibernation and cave time. I meet God in the stillness, the quiet, the dark that arrives early in the afternoon and leaves late in the morning. In stews and soups simmering in my small kitchen, in sweaters and shawls and cozy throws thrown over my legs. Winter feeds my introverted soul.
My Summer Story
Because my father worked for a large corporation and was transferred and promoted often, summer began when a moving van pulled up in front of our house, usually as soon as the school year ended. For me, summer was a time of loss, leaving my friends and all that was familiar and known. Instead of a time of fun and freedom, summer was a time of loneliness. I yearned for school to begin in the fall where I could meet kids my own age and find a place for myself in new classrooms. But I also felt anxiety during those summer months. Would I like my new school? Would I make new friends?
In my adult years I’ve reframed that loneliness into solitude, and I wrap my spiritual practices in silence and stillness. I realize, however, that I still carry with me the stigma of those empty summer days of my childhood.
Leave them behind, I remind myself, but also learn from them. What can summer mean for me now?
Now is the time, I tell myself, to open to the invitations of this season–to live beyond the irritation of mosquitos and sweat and frizzy hair and nonexistent breezes.
Now is the time to both create and respond to the rhythm of this summer.
Opening to this Summer
As always I begin in silence. Sitting in my comfortable chair in the garret, I close my eyes lightly, not tightly, and take a couple deep cleansing breaths, finding my own rhythm. I allow questions to emerge:
How am I as I enter this summer season?
What do I need now? Do I need rest? Change of place, of pace? Inspiration? Connection? What is the call of this summer? What is possible this summer?
How can this summer season meet my needs? How can I invite God to be with me during this time?
Is there a spiritual practice calling me or a new way of becoming present to something I currently do in my life?
What have I learned during the winter and spring months that will enhance these summer months? What do I bring with me from those recent seasons? What is unfinished? What do I need to put down?
I open my journal and jot down a few words–“spaciousness,” for example, but I make no attempt to answer all these questions in one sitting. I know some questions will answer themselves as I move through the days, and others will emerge, but in the silence I become more aware of who I am and how and to what God calls me at this time.
Instead of that summer loneliness I experienced as a child, I relish these open days. Days that unfold. Spacious days offering time to read, to doze, to celebrate the glories of the June color blast garden.
When our children were young, we made summer lists –things we wanted to do and places we wanted to go–but now we mention in passing trips we could take or things we could do, but neither of us seems to be making the arrangements or plans. We are both content right here, right now.
Instead of a hummingbird who is in constant motion, vibration that delights, I am more like our big old dog, Boe, who lived with us at Sweetwater Farm. He was content no matter where he was. Stretched out under the harvest table, he opened one eye as I passed through from my office to the kitchen, and maybe he thumped his tail greeting me, but otherwise he didn’t move.
These days seem to stretch out before me, and I feel the twists and turns of life untangle. No, those twists and turns don’t quite disappear, but they feel more manageable, more breathable in the slightest of summer breezes.
The arrival of summer solstice can be an invitation to notice the unfolding and opening of summer days in your life. Do any of the following summer themes resonate with you? Do any of them open memories of past summers? Which of these summer themes shimmer and tickle and lift an “ah” to your lips? Pay attention. God is moving in your summer days.
- Summer Spontaneity
- Summer Senses
- Summer Spaciousness
- Summer Simplicity
- Summer Shifts
- Summer Sacred Space
- Summer Silliness
- Summer Stillness
- Summer Stretching
- Summer Celebrations
- Summer Support
- Summer Sadness
- Summer Sweetness
Summer Spiritual Practices
Is a new spiritual practice beckoning you? Or is summer a chance to adapt your ongoing spiritual practice in a new way? For example, moving your prayer and meditation time outside. Here are some possibilities:
Keep a summer journal. Pilgrims carried a small book with them a vade mecum, which means “go with me.” In the journal they wrote prayers, poems, and wisdom for the journey, but it would also be a way to record what you notice and learn and feel as you wander and roam. Where do you notice the movement of God?
Practice visio divina (sacred seeing), which is similar to lectio divina (holy reading). This practice invites you to see with the eyes of the heart and to pay attention to what shimmers, what invites you, what startles or amazes you. Where do you discover outdoor “chapels”? Perhaps commit to taking one photo a day and at the end of the summer print your photos. Do you notice any patterns? Where did God appear for you?
Other practices include extending hospitality to guests, gardening, walking outdoor labyrinths, spending time in nature, stargazing, pausing to send blessings out into the world as you open windows, volunteering in some new way in the community, trying something new that challenges you. Change your routine in some way and notice what that opens for you.
How about inviting a loved one to a practice of sharing daily with each other one gift, one expression of God, noticed or experienced?
I invite you and I invite myself to open to summer.
May the God of summer give us beauty.
May the God of summer give us rest.
May the God of summer give us joy.
May the God of summer give us inner light.
May the God of summer gives us what we need for healing.
May the God of summer give us a sense of satisfaction in the work of our hands.
May the God of summer lead us to amazing discoveries as we travel the inner roads of our soul.
adapted from Joyce Rupp
What intentions do you have for this summer? I would love to know.