Streets are quiet at 7 am, school parking lots are empty, families are on vacation, offices clear out early. Summer seems like a different dimension of space and time. During June and July – months holding most the daylight hours – there is a palpable drive for people to get the most out of each day. A sense of freedom and possibility surrounds these hours.
During these months a part of me is back in elementary school, eager to begin summer break. In those years I saw before me endless days to to play, explore, hang out. No more running around to lessons or being confined by the needs of school requirements. Instead I could read a book, have lunch on the deck, or play with friends. I was free to set my own schedule – mostly. With this freedom I ventured into new activities and learning. As I think back, there are some practices that still help me prepare for summer.
Cleaning my room. At the end of the school year I would often thoroughly clean my bedroom. Throw away papers, reorganize drawers, dust all surfaces. I wanted to start summer afresh without any remnants of the past year.
Gathering friends. As a child it was for the Nancy Drew Lemon Yellow Club – if I remember correctly. I couldn’t wait to bring friends together around common interests. Sometimes they came, sometimes not. But I was out there looking for community.
Reading, reading, reading. Summer was a time to read more books. I would go to the library and select books – pulling them off the shelves eager to dive into their stories. Then throughout the summer months I would escape into these new worlds.
As another academic year has wound down I am breathing a little more easily and finding myself again at another summer. With a freer schedule I can finally take time to consider long term plans for campus ministry instead of just focusing on the next day’s activity. I can also take time off and explore other avenues of life – have evening meals with family, take some short vacations. What had been a series of weeks of planning, preparations, long days, is now an opportunity to re-vision.
I’ve already done the preparatory cleaning – now it’s time to gather, read, and enjoy. What rituals indicate to you that summer has begun? Let’s not waste these days, this extra daylight.