By Lt(N) Graeme Carruth,
Base Chaplain: TEME, BLOG, RPOS(H)/RPOU(A)
Summer! Woohoo! Yeah! Ever since we were in school many of us have had that attitude to summer. Even if we preferred the cold and found our meaning in life through winter sports summer still had the magic of a reaally looong holiday to play with friends, hang out, do what we wanted, vacation, or go to camp. As we come to adulthood even with the responsibilities of family and household the idea of summer can fill us with a joie de vivre at the prospect of having some free time to get away from it all even if getting away means simply kicking round the home.
That said, sometimes all that anticipated joy can come with a trap that only begins to close on us as August marches on. Like Christmas, we can build high expectations for summer. And good on us for dreaming big. Good on us for imagining the places we’ll go, the upgrades to the house we’ll finish, the time we’ll spend with the kids or parents, etc. But what happens when August starts to creep away on us and we have not yet achieved those grand plans or at least not in the way we imagined? The second half of summer can begin to depress us. When the good we had planned and intended starts to look like it won’t get done, guilt can slowly rob what joy we might yet glean from what remains of the summer.
What is our faithful response?
Personally, I find the best place to begin is with kindness. In particular, kindness to ourselves. If we haven’t succeeded at all our big plans, or even any of them, then instead of beating ourselves up over it we can focus on the situation at hand. We can ask ourselves if what we originally hoped to do is still possible. Maybe everything we had planned is supposed to happen in August, or maybe we have managed to do something already and with a bit of reorganising we can make a go of finishing the rest in the time that remains. If not though then it’s time to remember that unlike Operation HONOUR, “Operation Achieve the Best Most Productive Awesome Summer In the History of the World” is not a no-fail mission.
With the advent of August maybe it’s time to take advantage of life’s frequent reality check: First, if we can’t do what we had hoped, then we can prioritise which of those plans matters most and consider them alongside the time that remains. Second, we need to recall what July was like. In other words, what did the previous 31 days allow us to do – probably the next 31 days will afford the same amount of get up and go time.
But perhaps the most important reality check for August is remembering that, to paraphrase Jesus, “Summer was made for humanity, not humanity for summer.” Speaking from one of many Christian perspectives, what I hear in these words is that we are more important as people created in God’s image, than even our best plans, hopes and dreams. When Jesus told people that He came to earth so people could enjoy abundant life, I believe part of His message was a passionate invitation to put our plans into perspective. What we get done matters far less than simply enjoying the day whatever that brings.
So here’s to August. Here’s to savouring each day. Here’s to doing what brings joy and not stressing over what remains undone.