the spiritual practice of summering

Slipping off shoes before bare grass.

Watching a nightly sunset, not in passing but present to the pastel palette of the sky.

Listening to early morning birds, awake even before the babes in the next room.

Spotting fireflies’ silent blinks at the wooded edge, gentle as grace.

Plucking first beans from the lush leaves of a growing garden.

Slurping melted ice cream from dripping cones.

Praying. Witnessing. Listening. Beholding. Harvesting. Savoring.

Some say summer is a lazy season, a lull between the wakening of spring and the work of fall. But I find summer ripe for the spirit. There is so much of God to be glimpsed in this greenest of seasons, in this brightest of sunshine.

The One who walked in the garden in the cool of the evening.

Summer 2013 023

The practice of parenting shapes my days and weeks but sometimes I forget how it shapes my seasons. I am woken up early with the extra hours of light, but do I wake to what matters most?

If the pressure of a Pinterest-worthy bucket list and the nagging reminder of winter’s biting zeros right around the corner overwhelm me with ambition to conquer these months by someone else’s standards, then I run ragged like a red-cheeked toddler sweating from slide to swing to slide to swing.

Even summer’s playground can become a place of exhaustion.

So I delight deliberately in a summer of spaciousness. Of longer days to wait and watch and listen. Of lingering light to sense the presence of the God who waits for us to slow down. Of Sabbath time to revel in the sultry days that beckon for rest.

We have no calendar crammed with activities. Sometimes we picnic or play in the park; sometimes we do nothing and loll around the house happy as clams. My children will only be so young for so long, and I feel no need to fill their days with the crush of extracurriculars. Will it hold them back? I don’t much care. We’re raising boys with mosquito bites behind their knees and sidewalk chalk smeared across their shorts and last week’s ice cream cones stained across their collars.

We are summering and it couldn’t be sweeter.

. . .

What do you love most about summer? How do you “practice” this season well?

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  1. Lauren L. on 19 July 2013 at 8:42 am

    Yes! A summer of spaciousness.

    I didn’t realize quite how crammed and cramped my season has been until I was on a writing retreat last week. There was so much open space, so much breathing room. As I have returned this week to busyness and schedules and people and noise, I am attempting to figure out where to include spaciousness in my days.

    And yet, even in the busyness, much goodness is taking place. Finding someone who sends me flowers and whom I can’t wait to see again. Brushing and snuggling with my kitten. Making good, healthy, simple food. Listening to live music in the hot sun. Drinking a cold beer. The eightteen-month-old daughter of my friends squealing with delight when I visit.

    This has been a summer of happy.

    • Laura on 22 July 2013 at 9:34 am

      Just beautiful, Lauren! I love your micro-blogs in the comments – they make me so happy. 🙂 And what a gift of a summer it sounds like you have been blessed with. Spaciousness is something we have to work at cultivating – isn’t it ironic? But loved ones, flowers, pets, food, music, drink, children – all these are sources of inspiration for me, too. May you enjoy many more days of delights till the season is through.

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