Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer reflections

Next week I am involved in leading a morning's retreat to help people take time to reflect on life with God.  The group has been following a programme through the four seasons, and for me (unsurprisingly) the theme is 'Summer'.

I need only speak for two short sessions so that participants enjoy maximum time for personal reflection and engage in a variety of activities to help them focus prayerfully and develop spiritually.   For me, this is an unusual opportunity.  How do I best encourage people to spend the  morning reflecting on Summer in worthwhile ways?

Of all the seasons, I love Summer the best. There is so much to enjoy!  All kinds of thoughts come into mind don't they, with various key words.  Light, light days.  My old Dad used to say in Spring: ‘The days are getting longer.’  Of course they weren’t but when daylight extends through afternoon into mid evening it does seem we have much more day.  Warmth which I greatly treasure – short sleeves, shorts, the outdoor life without getting cold.  And with that summer holidays – the season for relaxation outdoors with swimming, beaches, children on holiday from school.

And all this adds up to a season of Fullness - of flowering and profusion in the garden.  Light, warmth, and a time of fullness when the world is at its lushest. Those of us who have gardens, even if they are tiny, marvel at how often the grass now needs to be cut and the amazing blooms everywhere that need to be deadheaded and irrepressible weeds to be dealt with.

But something odd may happen to spiritual life.  I heard last week of someone who runs spiritual retreats but who has taken the decision never to plan them from May to August.  Apparently, people just don’t come.  I wonder.  Do we find it easier to find time and be quiet when it’s darker and colder?  Are we actually so busy outdoors that giving time over to reflection just doesn’t happen.  I am grateful that being asked to do this retreat has stopped me from rushing through this season and hopefully you may stop and pause too.

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