Our Second Hour and Sunday School classes have entered “Vacation Mode,” but faith development is so much bigger than what happens on Sunday mornings, and I want to encourage all of us – me included! – not to give our spiritual lives short shrift during the summer. Days are long – where will you make time for that idle attention that Mary Oliver speaks of in her poem, “The Summer Day,” those hours spent deeply noticing the natural world and your place in it? My own summer spiritual practice involves a hammock, and listening carefully to the sounds in my neighborhood. Laying so I can study the ground below me, attending to what exactly is growing there. I don’t treat my lawn with anything, so it’s a diverse mix of wild strawberries, grasses, clover, moss, and plants whose names I don’t know. Recently I noticed that there is a little baptisia plant poking up near the hammock stand, so I will mow around it, maybe move it somewhere else… did it grow there from seed dispersed by the plants at the side of the house? Was it part of a garden bed that was abandoned? I love wondering about the natural history of my yard.
If you are a parent, I hope you’ll be able to spend some time outside with your children with no particular place to go. Time to toss pebbles into a stream, build a fairy house in a shady spot, or study an ant hill together. I’ve heard it asserted that the average American child can identify around 1,000 corporate logos but fewer than 10 plants or animals native to their own region. I don’t have the original source of this information to vet it, but I believe it is a matter of spiritual importance for us to attend to our own and our children’s connection to the interconnected web that supports our lives, so that we can be better stewards and advocates for its preservation. And don’t view this as a chore; it’s an invitation to love. To go outside, to follow your eyes and ears, to feel the blessing of being alive in a whole symphony of life around us.
Happy Summer, everyone – see you in church!