I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Nancy Agneberg's reflection "Summer Spirituality."
“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, in the summer I often feel distracted, less productive, 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 to eat soups and stews.
The gifts of winter spirituality are easy for me. I live in Minnesota, and 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 pray Joyce Rupp's “A Summer Prayer,” and ask myself how can I meet God during this season of so many pleasures? How does summer speak of God to me? How can I grow in my awareness of the presence of God, whether I am walking along the Mississippi River or reading a book on a beach, or harvesting basil for homemade pesto? As I pack for a road trip, how will I remember to make room for the God who yearns for a place in my life, wherever I am?
Summer spirituality invites me into spaciousness. I open the windows of our home to let in fresh air, along with the smell of lilacs, but I can also open the windows of my heart, releasing what is stale and breathless, instead circulating what is fresh and fragrant. With the shift into summer, I have the opportunity to examine routines no longer working for the person I am now and to see with greater clarity how I am growing or need to grow. Is it time to create more simplicity in my 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.
I know summer has the potential to stretch me. I stretch my body on my early morning walks or while biking in my neighborhood. Perhaps I do some T'ai Chi in a park, instead of in my garret office. Visiting unfamiliar places, seeing new sights, trying new foods and chatting with strangers can broaden my perspectives, my 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.”
Summer invites me to use all my senses and to explore its delights and dazzling abundance of treats. Corn on the cob with melted basil butter. The touch of water lapping my feet as I walk a shoreline. The smell of roses in a lush garden. The sound of fireworks on the 4th of July or an outdoor concert and the sight of the moon lingering in the night sky. Savor it all, I remind myself, for the senses are guides across thresholds to the holy. Summer urges me to linger in sacred space, the places where spirit seems most intense. I have felt the sacred while driving country roads past faded red barns, but also on my own front porch with a glass of lemonade in my hands. At the end of a stimulating day exploring new sights or spending time with family or friends, how good it is to ask a loved one, “What was your favorite?” Isn't that a kind of blessing, a way to create sacred memories?
I remind myself to rejoice in celebrations and summer silliness,to celebrate the special, but also look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Can I rediscover the child I once was. Come, young Nancy, be my summer guide. Recapture the ease of long, lazy days reading Nancy Drew mysteries on a scratchy picnic blanket spread on the lawn or the freedom of turning one way and then another on my bike or comfortable solitude putting together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, knowing I have the whole summer to complete it.
“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 draw me to stillness,for when I am still, not moving, I am open to being moved. Stop, listen to the crickets in the evening or cheers from a distant baseball game, but also to the inner whispers of new ideas, new connections, new deeper awareness.
Listen to the call to embrace summer spirituality.
“May the God of summer give us joy.
May the God of summer give us inner light.”
May it be so.
Quotations in bold are from “A Summer Prayer” in The Circle of Life, The Heart's Journey Through the Seasons by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr. (Sorin Books, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2005) pp 119-120.
Nancy L. Agneberg, writer and spiritual director, finds joy helping others deepen their relationship to the Divine, the Sacred, the Holy, especially as one ages. Nancy is writing a spiritual memoir about her growth as a contemplative in the world. She posts frequently on her blog, http://clearingthespace.