Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer vacation

The sun is out today! BIG news here in the Northwest where I live--I'm talking BIG! Lately we've been having March in June, if you know what I mean. There's still fire burning in our pellet stove, still sweatshirts on our backs. Baby, it's cold outside. Sure, there are June flowers blooming--the rhodies and perennials are waving magestically in the wind--they don't realize they shouldn't be poking their heads out in such terrible weather. They bloom by the calendar, not by the weather. And we got out the patio furniture a few weeks ago, set it out, looked at it longingly, then hurried back in the house before we got frost bite. Apparently, we do certain things by the calendar as well.

Meanwhile, oldest daughter E called me from Las Vegas where she's working the Olympic Trials wrestling tournament this weekend. She was lying out by the pool over her lunch break--the temperature was in the 90's. I almost hung up on her.

Now I love all the seasons, really I do. I like winter in December, when the first snow falls and everyone presses their noses to the windows, then drops what they're doing to run out and play in it. Most of us become children at the first snowfall. And I love the winter days when the air is cold and biting, the sky is brilliant blue and the sun shines so brightly the snow glistens like it's made of tiny diamonds. A couple of months later, I love the hope and promise of the first buds of spring, the array of color with which God paints the flowers and even the gradations of green that I can see just from my own backyard. And I love the crisp change of that green to brilliant hues of orange, red, vermilion, puce that happens half a year later in autumn (and what a beautiful word autumn itself is!), when trees rain those colors all over the world. I really love them. But summer--I crave summer. The heat, the glistening water, the burgeoning growth of the plants, the approach of harvest--it's all summer. The best time of the year for me.

I think it's the freedom from school--can you tell I'm excited that the Beve gets out tomorrow? When I was a kid, we'd throw off our school clothes that last day, climb into our brand new swimming suits, and ride our bikes at laser speed down the hill to the outdoor public swimming pool, and only get out of the pool in time to go back to school in the fall. OK, so I exaggerate. But just barely--I do know my fingers were wrinkled all summer long, my skin was brown as a berry (whatever that means) and my feet were tough as leather from going barefoot. And all without sunscreen, just so you know! And I loved it. I lived for it. Every moment, every day. I do remember being at the pool on the first day it was opened every year and the last day before it closed, I was on the swim team, did synchronized swimming, and in college, was a life guard for four years. I guess you could say, Rainey Park Pool was my summer home. But I also swam in lakes, the Sound, the ocean--you name it, if it had water, I was dipping my toes in it.

There's something about summer that changes how I look at the world. Do you remember this? It's the freedom from routine. Opening car windows and letting the breeze flow through our hair. It's the smell of chlorine--or lake water, or salt water--on bodies, and not caring about having to look 'just so,' and just plain being comfortable with yourself, for better or worse. It's about living as though you have all the time in the world to do whatever you have to do. Now I know that most of us in the grown-up world don't have long summer vacations anymore. And most of you have 'to do' lists that are longer than your right arms, and more important than I can imagine. I'm sure I can't understand the pressure you're under every single day.

But what if, what if, just for a day or two, we lived as if it was summer vacation? I mean, what if we really jumped in a pool somewhere for a moment, floated on our backs, and let God hold us up? Sometimes I think that we get so caught up in what we ought to do that we forget that that's how He wants us to live--floating in Him, letting Him hold us up--being comfortable with ourselves in Him, just as we are--just the way He made us. What it we lived like this all the time? Maybe, just maybe we're approaching life like we have to do it all, and He wants us simply to live--live whatever He's called us to live, with whomever He's called us to live with, doing whatever He's called us to do--like it's summer vacation.

"Consider the ravens" They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you--you of little faith!" Luke 12: 24-28

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