Summer Spirituality

by Nancy Agneberg

“May you breathe in the beauty of summer with its power of transformation.”

I have a confession to make. I am not a summer person. I don’t like the heat and the humidity and what it does to my thick, curly hair. I don’t like mosquitos. To be honest, I often feel distracted in the summer, drawn away from my garret desk. Nope, I am not a summer person. I am a winter person. I love to hibernate, to enclose myself in a cave where it is dark and snuggly, to wrap myself in sweaters and eat soups and stews. And I am far more productive in the winter.
The gifts of winter spirituality are easy for me. The quiet, days of cold and snow and ice invite me to go deeper inside my inner cave, to explore what it is I most need to know about myself and the movement of God in my life. The summer season, however, is a challenge for me. How can I access the spiritual gifts of this time when there is so much to do, so many places to go and people to see, and it all needs to be crammed into a few weeks bookended by holidays and filled with celebrations?

“May you seek and find spaces of repose during these summer months.”

I ask myself how can I meet God during this season of so many pleasures? How does summer speak of God to me? How does God speak to you in the summer, and how can you grow in your awareness of the presence of God, whether you are hiking to a Minnesota waterfall, reading a book on a beach, or weeding in the garden? As you pack for a family vacation, how will you remember to make room for the God who yearns for a place in your life wherever you are?
Summer spirituality invites us into spaciousness. We open the windows of our home, but we can also open the windows of our heart, releasing what is stale and breathless and circulating what is fresh and fragrant. With the shift into summer, we have the opportunity to examine routines no longer working for the person we are now and to see with greater clarity how we are growing or need to grow. Is it time to create more simplicity in your life? To pack lightly, not just for a longed-for vacation, but to lighten any burdens of care or worries or tasks no longer necessary. Simplicity is an invitation to discern what is essential. Summer has the potential to stretch us. We stretch our bodies in yoga class or after a day of biking or canoeing, but summer can also broaden our perspectives, our awareness of the world.

“May your eyes see the wonders of God’s colors.
May these colors delight you and entice you into
contemplation and joy.”

Use all your senses to explore the delights of summer, a dazzling abundance of treats. Corn on the cob with melted basil butter. The touch of water lapping our feet as we walk a beach. The smell of roses in a lush garden. The sound of fireworks on the 4th of July and the sight of the moon lingering in the night sky. Savor it all, for the senses lead us across thresholds to the holy. Linger in sacred space, the places where spirit seems most intense. Perhaps you feel that in the family cabin or in a national park or on your own front porch. When you ask a loved one, “What was your favorite?” after a busy day of exploring new sights or spending time with family or friends, you offer a blessing and create sacred space.
Rejoice in celebrations and summer silliness. Celebrate the special, but also look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Rediscover the child within. What did you most love to do when you were a child, and how can that child lead you now?

“May the God of summer lead us to amazing discoveries
as we travel the inner roads of our souls.”

The heavy, hot days of summer can draw us to stillness. When I am still, not moving, I am open to being moved. Listening to yourself and to the voice of God clears the space for new ideas, new connections, new deeper awareness. Attending summer worship services reinforces and supports what summer teaches and reminds us that it is in community where we remember we are all one and we are all loved.

“May the God of summer give us joy.
May the God of summer give us inner light.”

May this be the summer when we each fully embrace summer spirituality, and may we greet each other along the way.

NOTE: Quotations in bold are from “A Summer Prayer” by Joyce Rupp.

Nancy led discussion on this topic at the final Sunday forum on May 20.