13 July 2023
Sr. Cheryl Rose

There’s a painting of a tree showing the limbs in each season, and we talk about meeting the face of God in each season, and today I’m wondering what the God of Summer’s face is like.  All I can picture is a face of broad smiles and radiant joy—as God watches all the beloved creatures enjoying the freedom of outdoor living in close contact with each other—humans, dogs, water, fish, bugs of all sorts, sunshine and rainstorm, mountains and forests, in camps and cabins all over the parts of Earth in summer mode.  I think God loves the idea of play—and rest and relaxation.

So, isn’t there a spirituality of summer?  Each season calls to a different aspect of our spirit and takes us into lessons that embody the sacred wisdom of that season.  Surely summer shows us the refreshing laid-back openness of God—that seems to say: ”Life isn’t meant to be so dead-on serious!”  As WE delight when we watch children play with abandon, does not God delight to see creatures ALIVE and enjoying the warm restorative breezes of summer together?

Doesn’t God just beam to see the winter-weary creatures come forth from their dens and nests and hideaways to run freely through woods and meadows and beaches and backyards?  Surely God urges the serious-minded humans, with too much work to do, too many pressures and frustrations on their backs, to take off a few afternoons or weekends, slip into shorts and t-shirts, kick off those too-sturdy shoes and sandal or bare feet their way to the parks, beaches, and picnic grounds! God must shake that divine head saying, “I never meant it to be so hard!”  Over the centuries since Jesus sandaled his way through our world with us, spirituality took on many forms that do not seem modeled on the way HE lived or the essence of His teaching.  Somehow the spiritual path became skewed more towards stern, penitential, non-joyful, strict observances.  But Jesus was not like that! Who are we following?

What is God’s summer FACE---and summer wisdom?  As a lifetime, super responsible Enneagram type raised on an ethic of “work hard”, I’m only slowly growing to see that beaming summer face of God—or the head-back laughing face of Jesus who would be out playing baseball or corn-hole with all the folks at any gathering He’d be at!!

So, is the spiritual path of summer an invitation to discover the abandon of play—where the True Self steps forth and reminds us that every day is a good day?  Every day is guided by the mercy and full wisdom of God who walks every step of life with us, loving every hair of our head, and bringing us unfailingly to “our desired haven.”   The childlike play and interactions of humans and other created wonders is a rich communion with the Divine.  Is this not the heart of spirituality? Can I not contemplate my God as deeply in the sanctuary of Creation, barefoot and turned toward God’s Summer Face as I do in the cold, barren, introspective days of winter?  Didn’t St. Iraneaus share his prayer-wisdom by suggesting that holiness is being fully alive? Yes, all around us bad things are happening, and fires, and storms and weather ravaged by climate change, and wars, and refugees, and gun violence—yes, many sobering, painful, unjust worries and events raging around us….so even more might God say: “Ah, my Child, you need to let go your heavy burdens and awful tension, and come play in the garden with Me.  Just for a while—rest your weariness like the trees and flowers and insects and birds—that know that My love sustains them all.”