“So, what should we do tomorrow?” my friend Laurel asked me over text.
“Um, I don’t know yet,” I replied. “Can we just see where the spirit of summer takes us?”
When she showed up at my house the next morning, we leisurely discovered our way around the city of Seattle. We stopped by Mighty O, our favorite vegan donut shop; we walked around Sand Point, while my young boys zoomed scooters in front of and behind and through us. We sat lazily in the backyard for a couple of hours, sipping iced tea and catching up on missed bits of conversation, until our husbands came home. Then we grilled, and filled empty glasses, and sat in comfy, cushioned chairs until the stars appeared.
That day and into the night, we let summer be what it was intended to be: an open palate of beauty and grace.
I don’t know about you, but every year when June arrives I’m ready for it. I’m ready not to pack lunches anymore, and I’m ready not to hustle tiny bodies out the door every morning. I’m ready for deadlines to cease, so I can fill my kitchen and my belly with the food this season is made of: juicy watermelon dribbling down your chin, 4th of July Jell-O molds oozing through your teeth, and hamburgers sizzling fresh off the grill.
I could go on, for there’s nothing like a summer bounty of food. But really, the thing I most look forward to is rest from routine.
I suppose that’s also where newness meets me in faith: I’m not so bound by outward schedules of rigidity. I’m free to be my most innocent and playful self. And just as the spirit of summer greets me when I’m lining up plans with a friend, the beauty of Christ meets me in new ways come summertime.
It’s like the glory of the ordinary everyday is made that much holier when life and schedules and food are simplified.
So, I see God in the heirloom tomatoes that begin to pop up at the farmer’s market.
I see God in the shrieking delight of my two young sons, when a backyard hose lends them permission to drench each other with love and grace.
And I see God in the little, mundane moments of my life, when I let go of my own expectations of crafting perfect sentences and squeezing creativity out of my brain and onto my computer, and really, actually enter into the present moment.
It’s then, as I sit on a blanket on the grass, my toes dangling over the edge, flirting with green, that I remember one of my favorite quotes:
Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there. -Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
But this time, unlike the last time I remembered it — six, seven months ago — I don’t just think nicely of it; I take it to heart. I put it to action. I will and I sense grace and beauty in God’s world around me, and I am refreshed, renewed, reinvigorated to life.
And that, I’d say, is exactly what the spirit of summer intended.