28 July 2006

Summer's Grace, Summer's Burden.


‘IN THE GOOD OL’ SUMMERTIME…’ All my life I have loved the summertime. I like hot, hot weather. I like long days with plenty of after supper daylight for additional outdoor fun. I like to swim. I like summer camp. I like not going to school, but I do like summer reading. I like watermelon. I like the 4th of July. I like thunderstorms. I like lightening bugs. All in all, I am extremely Pro-Summer. One other great thing about summer is that most of us will shed an item or two from our normal ‘school year’ agenda. The pace of things tends to ease up a bit, and this general ratcheting down of the normal whirl of activity allows, or potentially allows, some time for reflection and appreciation. Daydreaming is no vice in the summertime. If one is careful to look for and preserve it, there is in summer the luxury of space for unhurried, uninterrupted thinking about questions big and small: Shall I slice up this perfect tomato for a sandwich or just eat it right now like an apple? Or, what is my obligation in the current crisis in Iraq? Of course thinking, in and of itself, is an idle activity and liable to turn into self-indulgence. As G.K. Chesterton said, the object of opening one’s mind, as of opening one's mouth, is to close it again on something solid. Really, thoughts, even excellent, noble thoughts, must at some point become actions. Which then imposes something of a burden on summer. We really ought to do something with it.

About 2,600 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah wept for unrepentant Judah, saying, ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved’ (Jer 8.20). Judah’s failure was preeminently a failure of thinking – specifically a failure to remember. The people, God’s chosen and redeemed people, had failed to keep in the forefront of their minds just that – that they were God’s chosen and redeemed people. Through Jeremiah, God declared, ‘I had planted you like a choice vine of a sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine (2.21)? And then the question is answered: ‘Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number’ (2.32).

What will we do with this summer’s burden of time? God grant that we will do some thinking, some remembering. Of all those thoughts we have time to indulge this summer, none is so important, so solid, (in the summer and always) as is God’s great mercy to us in Jesus Christ. We gather each Sunday to do just this, hearing God’s words of mercy and grace, and coming in gratitude to the heavenly meal, ‘in remembrance’ of him whose yoke is easy, and whose burden in light (Mt 11.30). And, having remembered, and having been fed with spiritual food, the time comes for action. We ‘go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.’

Faithfully,
Patrick+

*From the June 2004 St. Joseph of Arimathea newsletter.
 

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