Still half full

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A teacher recently posted online, “In a blink, July is done. Where has the summer gone?” I’m happy to announce that we are at the start of August. The sun will set tonight at 8:01. And yes, that’s not as late as the 8:30 end of the day we had in June, but still it’s not 4:30 which is still four months away.

This is a glass-half-full moment if only we have the eyes to see. If we bemoan the lost opportunities of the past month, we could find ourselves paralyzed to take advantage of the summer moments still available to us. Finish reading this column and then get going!

The beach is only a few miles from where we live. There are still outdoor concerts throughout the month. The tomatoes are ripening. There’s a world outside of our air-conditioned cocoons. While we all know these things, this is the time to go beyond knowledge to action. And to do this I suggest making a plan. Get out a piece of paper (the old fashioned, not on the smart phone kind) and write out the days of the week ahead. Then figure on which summer activity you’ll be fitting in during those days. You might not have an activity to fill each day, but if you write nothing down, then in three weeks you too might be posting, “In a blink, August is gone.”

Of course I wouldn’t be doing my religious “shepherd” duty without encouraging you to write “church” or “synagogue” on the appropriate day. Some people find that weekly prayer in the community is part of their regular life. But others need a little gentle encouragement to discover the joys of summertime worship: it’s a little more laid back; there is more room; you’re not so busy so God’s word can percolate more easily; and yes, most places of worship are air conditioned!

If you choose not to write in a visit to your local house of worship this weekend, perhaps you could ask yourself, “why not?” Do you look at church with the half-empty or half-full vision? Some people were put off by some experience in the past and use that as the background for not praying together. Do we also use past experiences of summer to keep ourselves from enjoying these upcoming days.

“I got sunburned once.” “One time, I dropped my ice cream cone.” “During a concert, it started raining and we had to leave early.” “Those darn mosquitoes love to seek me out.” “The sand is too hot on my feet.” “The children are cranky in the hot weather.” These are all unpleasant realities, but if we dwell on what was off-putting in the past, we’ll miss the joys of what’s in store. Just get out there!

May I suggest that it’s the same thing with praying at church? Boring sermons, off-key music, rude ushers, cranky children, etc. might have been unpleasant experiences of the past, but possibilities for blessing and peace are open to everyone who goes beyond the past excuses to the more than half-full spiritual opportunities in the summer weekends ahead. Just get out there!

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