Ah, it’s summer, but this one feels very different with our masking, social isolation and distancing and ongoing rolling lockdowns and pauses in reintegrating our society. So I have chosen to look at things that are the same always.
Above us, the summer sky reminds us again that while the sun is at the highest point in the sky and curiously, it is also at the farthest point away from earth. Still the summer sun brings us the longest days of the year with 15 or more hours of sunlight, and slightly more moderate temperatures than in the Southern Hemisphere; but, always inviting us to bask in its’ radiance: a curious calling in the midst of pandemic disease and being housebound. So many of us are now yard-bound or garden-bound or busily searching for shade under a tree or umbrella.
Summer is also a time of nostalgia. We all can recall our favorite or most wonderful or our most quiet summer growing up in those lazy days of our childhood. At one point, within a week after school ended for the year, we thought we would die of boredom only to be rushed back into school clothes and be readied for classes in August or early September, just when we were getting the hang of it. We may remember days of haying, when the only way to earn a reasonable amount of money for summer was to assist in gathering and toting hay to the waiting truck in a farmer’s field. But for a moment, remember your favorite summertime memory as I have remembered a few of mine.
Remember early mornings in summer with no school to attend and the sheer youthful delight of doing “nothing” in particular like stepping barefoot into dew-soaked grass or wiggling toes in still-cool sand of a beach the first thing each day. The Latin words that make up delight are de, meaning away, and lacere meaning to allure. It is still a fact of our time that even on a good day, we are distracted by all the noise from politicians, warnings from health professionals and outrage from so many disenfranchised that one must wonder who is franchised among us? But the notion of allurement, of being called out of ourselves to re-enter our true self might just put some dew on the roses of our lives.
Somehow, in this season of the year, traditional religion and the practices thereto may seem particularly cumbersome, especially now with social distancing and masking and in many communities, only online worship with the poor sound and bad camera quality of a laptop or tablet can only remind us of our lives as they used to be.
This does not curtail the action of the Holy, which is constantly announcing that we need to find holiness in the dailiness of our lives—NOW! Summer being the “NOW” time offers us the perspective of not having to reach backwards to a “better time” per se, or of anticipation of the next forward leap, but living in the NOW—however it comes to us. Summer is part of the liturgical calendar reminding us that this “ordinary time” which is hardly ever ordinary, rather is a reminder that the common and routine can be illuminating.
I, for one, have found this season to be not only a reminder of what was, but a moment of transformation of what can be NOW. Summer can really only ever exist in the here and now and then it is gone; suddenly it becomes last summer. So this season may be one to rest gently, love deeply, and settle into a full sensorium of being. That can be as simple as swinging in a hammock on the porch, sitting while sipping a lemonade on a glider in the garden, dozing in the warmth on a lonely beach, dangling your feet off a dock in cool water, or standing in a mountain stream casting out your fly line to snag a trout. Whatever re-connects you to you is all that is necessary.
Mary Jane Irion tells it this way:
Sometimes I wondered if
I had any faith.
I sat down and thought about it.
And when I had had enough
of that I got up
and went on my way.
And that—getting up
and going—was faith.Yes, World: A Mosaic of Meditations, p. 119-120, Richard Baron, New York, 1970
That would be what happens in summer.