The last day of first grade still pulses in my heart’s memory. Not the whole day. Its beginning and ending have long ago faded from view. I don’t even remember what happened before the bell rang to close down the school year at mid-morning.
A wrought iron fence punctuated with massive brick columns surrounded Louisville Academy. I recall standing atop one of those brick columns at the far end of the school property. Measured by the hands of a clock, the time I spent standing there was probably no more than a few minutes.
But at least for an instant, time had for me simply dissolved. Hours and minutes had no meaning. In the shade of enormous oaks, the air felt cool and smelled sweet. My heart raced with what I think was the feeling of freedom. Summer seemed like forever. And I was experiencing forever just then. Eternity is something like being utterly lost in the moment.
As we all enter summer, I hope that you will allow eternity to infiltrate some of your days. Sometimes we pursue leisure with such ferocity that we simply exhaust ourselves. We miss the opportunity to be regenerated by tranquility, quiet reflection, aimless wandering, and companionship that has no agenda and even fewer words.
Many of you will read newspaper and magazine articles that suggest books to read, blogs to follow, and places to explore during the great expanse of summer. There’s little need for me to add to those lists for you. There are already enough perfectly good ones, like the one by Rachel Held Evans.
Instead, I’m going to ask you to consider something. As you pursue the leisure activities that you have delayed for the past months, ask yourself if you are perhaps simply replacing one form of hurriedness for another.
During the school year, many of us are scrambling from one thing to another. The achievement treadmill leaves us breathless. As we now enter into a season of leisure, are we bringing the same hurried spirit to a different set of activities?
Many of us fear that we will miss something. Lose out. Be left out. And so we hurry to cram as much activity into our lives as time will allow. And maybe even a little more activity than time will allow, given how pervasive the problem of sleep deprivation has become.
God has no desire to push us until we are running on empty. To borrow a phrase from Bernard of Clairvaux, God urges us to give from the overflow. Hurried people are exhausted people. Exhaustion diminishes joy, incites conflict, and crushes creativity.
As for me, this summer I will be spending time watching stars come out in the evening, strolling in the woods with no particular purpose, writing just for the joy of it, and listening to music instead of using it as background noise for other activities.
Somewhere along the way, eternity might just sweep me up in its shimmering flow. I’ll realize it only when I come back to myself and look back. However it may happen for you, I hope that eternity surprises you this summer.