01 Jun Summer Encounters with God
With the arrival of Memorial Day this past weekend, summer has begun, albeit “unofficially.” In my neighborhood, pools opened, grills fired on all cylinders, lawn mowers and weed-whackers roared to life. On my way to church, I shared the road with numerous motorcycle riders who were headed into the city for Rolling Thunder. Some children are out of school and others are counting down the days. Watermelon has finally made its way to my kitchen table once again. At my house, nothing shouts “summer!” quite like watermelon.
I spent a lot of the weekend outdoors: attending a thrilling baseball game, pulling weeds, getting in a 3-mile walk, cleaning deck furniture, arranging colorful baskets of flowers. My deck is now “open and ready for business.” I love these rituals of summer. The changing seasons always bring a sense of anticipation, possibility, and newness, and I appreciate the aspects that are unique to each one. I look forward all year to a summer peach, to planters full of impatiens and geraniums, to walking outside instead of being stuck on a treadmill in the gym. I look forward to time spent with family and friends, especially because the pace seems to be more leisurely. Perhaps because the days are longer, people tend to linger, visiting just a little while longer.
Summer is noisier than the other seasons. The neighborhood kids are outside, of course, playing ball, chasing each other, or creating all kinds of nifty artwork with sidewalk chalk. There is a bird that apparently has a megaphone pointed straight at my bedroom window. It chirps and chirps and chirps in the loudest bird-chirp ever, starting well before dawn. Some days my attitude is less than charitable towards this “neighbor.” But, other days I go ahead and get up. It is often my favorite time of the day, that still, silent time just before the black of night gives way to gray, which gives way to the faint edges of morning light.
God meets me in the myriad ways I experience summer. God certainly meets me in the early dawn when I sit with a cup of tea and quiet myself in God’s presence. But God also meets me when my hands are in the dirt. Dirt is a wonder—it looks like nothing is going on; it’s just, well, dirt. But, in a world we can’t see with the naked eye, dirt is an incubator for new life, rich in life-giving nutrients and water, full of worms doing their worm-thing. We don’t give thanks for dirt often enough.
God also meets me in the special delights of summer fruits and vegetables. When was the last time you paused to contemplate the incredible variety that the earth produces? The colors, the textures, the tastes, the smells—it seems pretty clear to me that God values diversity, abundance and beauty. Summer is a celebration of that multiplicity, but if we’re not careful, we’ll plow through the next three months and never stop to appreciate the gifts we’re enjoying.
God can meet us when we’re washing the car or throwing a frisbee, hiking in the mountains or nurturing a tomato plant, hosting a backyard bar-b-que or playing “Marco Polo” with the kids at the pool. Friends, look around you! God’s fingerprints are everywhere, and God is not only willing but eager to meet us in the midst of this summer bonanza. I find that gratitude is a wonderful practice to open my heart to the ways and wonders of God.
I invite you to try it and also to share one of your summer “encounters with God” by posting a comment on our website or Facebook page.
Yours for the Kingdom,
P.S. Here is information on our Summer Series on the book of Exodus