Summer speaks to us with such lovely voices. On any given day, if we listen attentively, we can hear the soothing sounds of waves lapping upon the shore, birds chirping gaily in the trees, a gentle summer breeze rustling our curtains. Summer calls to us more than any other season: “Slow down, pay attention.” It beckons us to sit and rest awhile, to curl up in its comforting lap and surrender to the sweetness of warm days and balmy nights. It invites us to listen.
I know many women who use the summer to cram everything on their wish list into an all-too-short season. They fill their weekends to overflowing with house guests and get-togethers, day trips, boating or kayaking, hiking or beach going. Don't get me wrong. I am all for enjoying summer to the hilt. But, what I am noticing is by scheduling our days to be full and varied, we can lose sight of the greater purpose of this season: to savor the moment at hand and listen to the gentle wisdom it offers.
Summertime speaks with a unique voice all its own. The abundance of nature, bridled with the opportunity to enjoy it, entreats us to heighten our awareness so that we can truly experience the richness of its gifts. Summer encourages us in the midst of our busyness (even if it is “fun” busyness) to be fully present, appreciating the moment at hand. The voice of summer gently whispers in our ears, "Walk more slowly," "Listen to the birds singing," "Bend down and smell the flowers," or "Feel the cool water upon your skin." Whenever we are engaged in one of these activities, summer's desire for us can be heard if we tune our senses up to high and root ourselves more firmly in the present moment.
Not just in summer, but each and every day of our lives, we have the opportunity to welcome the wisdom of summer into our lives. An example from my personal archives attests to this. Years ago, my youngest daughter enrolled in art classes at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, about 40 minutes from where we lived. Each day for one week, I had to drive her back and forth to school, so I chose to wait for her while the class was in session. Many parents decided to hang out in the art center, some left in cars to shop or run errands. The voice of summer beckoned me, however, to stay put, to take pleasure in the beauty of the campus.
So each day I packed a blanket, a carafe of coffee, and planted myself on a grassy knoll not far from the art building. Journal and pen in hand, I sat in the sun, felt the wind's tender breath upon my face, and listened to what summer had to say to me. In those sweet, hushed moments I sank into the beauty of the day and lost (or should I say found) myself in the peacefulness of the present moment. It was only an hour each day, but for a time, I was able to connect more deeply with Mother Earth and hear what she had to say to me. I sat in the silence and simply listened. Appreciation for the beauty of the day came through loud and clear. Words of wisdom manifested and I jotted them down in my journal. In the solitude and bounty of nature I was able to reconnect with my truest self, a woman who is both peaceful and creative, as well as with the glorious world around me.
This summer I invite you to do the same. Give yourself the gift of time and engage your senses; fully experience what the season of summer has to offer. It might be desirable to take a few moments each day (morning is especially nice for this) to experience the sights and sounds of summer. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
•Listen to the wind and feel it ruffle your hair.
•Feel the rain on your face.
•Sit in the grass, feel it, smell it.
•Wander through a garden, touching and smelling all the flowers.
•Lay in the sun and feel its warmth upon your skin.
•Stroll through a farmer's market and savor the colorful sights and sweet smells of fresh produce.
•Hearken to the morning songbirds trilling their tunes.
•Walk through a field, feeling the tall grasses rub against your legs.
•Drive with the windows down smelling the fresh, green fields.
•Watch the clouds as they drift through the sky.
Nightime in the summer has its own special allure. As the sun fades and temperatures cool down, a stroll in nature can open us to its magic and mystery:
•Follow the path of the moon through the night sky.•Revel in the quiet that comes with darkness.
•Lay on a blanket and scan the sky for shooting stars.
•Seek the enchantment found in the woods, especially lightening bugs.
•Bask in the luminescence of a moon garden.
The gifts of summer are many if we consciously slow down, heighten our sensory awareness, and gather them up in our arms to be gently embraced. With overactivity the usual mode of our days, summer gives us a unique opportunity to connect more deeply with ourselves and others in settings of delightful beauty; it can provide a healing balm for our work-weary souls. Peace and serenity can be ours if we allow summer to weave her fanciful web around us.
Let go of your busyness. Sit. Enjoy. And, most important of all, listen.
Need help listening to your heart and soul? In need of refreshment?
I've just posted my fall retreat schedule. Join me for a day retreat or a full weekend of rejuvenation.