The spirit of summer
Summer: the time when things are supposed to slow down. Here at the University of Tennessee, it seems to be more of a fiction than a fact. Students engage in research projects and summer classes. Professors devise new curricula and try out new technologies. People may have opportunities to take a short vacation or two, but that means that there will be more work piled up when they return to the office. As for me, I’m the victim of putting too many tasks on my “things-to-do-when-I’m-less-busy-in-the-summer” list!
Even if the pace doesn’t slow down, summer still has a “feel” that sets it apart from the rest of the year. One professor here at the University of Tennessee expressed it this way: “It’s a different kind of busy.”
Time is our most precious commodity. There’s a finite amount of it. Some of us, however, despite our busy-ness, have a chance to reshuffle our routines during the summer months. Hey, I may need to drag myself out of bed for the early-morning student orientation events, but at least I can wear my sandals and guzzle coffee in a way that’s usually not appropriate while I’m wearing a Roman collar!
Summer may be a time to “switch up” our prayer lives, too. Is this the time to establish or modify a prayer routine? Is there an opportunity to spend a few moments thanking God for the sunshine and the splendor of creation? Would be the time to join a meditation group? Is there a day (or a weekend, or a week) available to go on a religious retreat?
It was the summer of 2004 when I went on my first overnight retreat. I’ll never forget what my director, Father Bill Sneck, SJ, said to me: “If you’re willing to give this time to God, God will surely reward you.” On that retreat, the Holy Spirit invited me to make profound changes in my life’s journey, and those changes led me to the Paulists.
One consequence of making those changes is that I now find myself about to lead an overnight retreat for the first time. Several of our graduate students and young professionals have found a way – despite their busy schedules – to offer 24 consecutive hours to growing in discipleship. Please pray for them, that God may bless this kairos time, this time set apart.
During these longest days of the year, may we each find a way to spend a few extra hours in the light of Christ.
Father Richard R. Andre, CSP, is associate pastor of John XXIII University Parish in Knoxville, Tenn.