It’s summer again. I say that with a little resignation because right now that means a whole lotta heat and very little breezy circulation. But it’s here – there’s no stopping time, and so I surrender with a nice cool Tom Collins and a tacky little rainbow flag that, like my summers, used to mean something else and has somehow become…well…something else.
I remember the anticipation of summer vacation like it was yesterday. Those grade school years were interminable, weren’t they? Good grief – my life was measured in school holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas vacation, Easter break, those awful teaser days like President’s Day, and then – the ever-anticipated Summer Vacation!
Queue Snoopy doing his Summertime Dance.
And then everything would slow down. It was amazing. We didn’t have cell phones or X-Box or cable, so we were shoo-ed outside by our moms, and we played. All day long. I don’t remember why or how we went in for lunch, but I remember baloney sandwiches, and hotdogs with too much ketchup, and peanut butter that stuck to the roof of my mouth. And I remember Wonderbread. (I haven’t had white bread in the house in years!)
There were trips to the lake and afternoons at the zoo. All in all, a delicious time of wonder and abandon.
Later, summers became more of a hassle. Somehow reading assignments for the next school year creeped in, and there were chores to be done before trips to the beach or outings to the movies. I remember that for $1.50 I could see a matinee (75 cents), get a regular popcorn (50 cents), and still have a quarter left for a Coke. Try getting a Coke for $1.50 today.
Those were good times, too, full of adventure and playing at being grown-up. We were in a hurry then to be like the older kids – the ones with cars, and dates, and after-school jobs.
That came too soon, but we were untouchable. Summers became a different kind of adventure – ones filled with independence (or at least, as much independence as our parents allowed) and new experiences. We might have still rolled our eyes about chores around the house, but summer jobs taught us about commitment and delayed gratification, and what the real world held in store for us and our wallets.
And then suddenly, summer became just another season. A hot one, with work to do outside as well as inside, and not enough time to get that done, and visit the folks, and entertain the kids, and…and…and.
And suddenly it was time to pour a Tom Collins and sit back and relax – let the ice clink around in the tallboy and play with a frou-frou flag. It’s just another season, see? It might be a little hot, and the lawn could use some weeding, but it’s still beautiful. The dandelions are in full bloom, and what I see are lovely wildflowers, not weeds.
The seasons come and go, and this Summer will flow into Fall soon enough. I’ve always been in a hurry to get to the next one. The minute Summer is upon me I dream of the coolness of Fall. In Fall, I long for Winter to be rid of the leaves. And of course, after the first real freeze, Spring can’t come soon enough.
I always think of Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” when the seasons change. It’s inevitable, especially since I am more familiar with it because of The Byrds than any ability to quote scripture. Still, I owe it to pop culture to drive me to the real source in Ecclesiastes, chapter 3. Forced catechesis. Well, maybe stealth catechesis, something many of us are familiar with.
At any rate, reading the whole passage gives me plenty to reflect upon. I can seize the day and enjoy every little moment that I have. If that were all, it would be a lot, but there’s more. It speaks to a purpose under heaven, and implicit in it is the understanding that we are serving a purpose, that the wheels are not turning randomly but purposefully. And that we must put our trust in that plan.
The glass clinks once more as I take my last sip and reflect on what I must do to fulfill that purpose. I don’t know what it is, but I can trust that like the seasons, God’s plan for me is in motion.