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Is summertime good for the soul?

In a new book, “Summer: A Spiritual Biography of the Seasons,” editor

Gary Schmidt and illustrator Susan Felch present writings from

several authors about the cathartic value of summertime -- its

ability to spiritually heal and renew, and to allow people to value

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time.

Do you agree? Is there something about summertime that can renew

us, even in a spiritual sense?

While there is no “Thou shalt have a vacation” command in the

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Bible, there are directives to periodically cease from labor (rest

days, festivals, etc.) to reflect on the goodness of God, and to

cease from toil for the benefit of the soul.

As was His regular practice, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely

places and prayed” (Luke 5:16 NIV). He would get away by Himself to

recuperate and to enjoy personal Communion with His Father in heaven,

only to return to His ministry refreshed and strengthened.

Getting away from the constant plugging-away in daily effort is

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more difficult when one is a timecard puncher, or one has every task

on immediate deadline with no break in sight. We get on a treadmill

toward ill health when we don’t take time away, and without taking

the vacation opportunity that summer affords, I think we do ourselves

a disservice.

Something that I appreciate about summer, when I actually take

time to stop and smell the roses, is that I rediscover that the roses

are even there. Away from the immediate environment and the hustle of

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necessity, my eyes open to the magnitude of God’s creative beauty

that most flourishes in this season. It’s this period when schedules

converge, and both kids and parents can spirit away to experience the

seashore, the mountains, historic places, and plain old calm and

quiet; and the adventures retold last all year!

The opportunity to spiritually refocus is excellent during such

breaks, if we are deliberate. Don’t neglect the Sunday worship in

another church at your vacation destination, and give priority to

that practice of prayer that you always wanted which you couldn’t

seem to fit in before when you were overworking. Remember, the summer

is God’s creation (Psalms 74:17).

REV. BRYAN GRIEM

Senior Pastor

Light On The Corner

Montrose

In Primeval times, the inhabitants paid homage to the sun and put

great stock in the seasons, like winter, spring, summer and even

autumn.

Some people feel best in the chill of winter, others enjoy the

renewal of spring and still others look forward to the warmth of

summer.

We do not place any particular importance on the seasonal times of

the year.

The most important thing of all is for us to strive for the unity

of mankind and if one can only do this in the summertime of life, it

is better than not trying at all.

Whichever season charges your battery, then that is your season.

BARBARA CRAMER

Secretary

Baha’i Faith

Glendale

The warmth of the summer months lends itself nicely to a period of

renewal.

It is during these months that we seek recreation, that is, a

means to re-create ourselves and our lives.

Interestingly enough, in the ancient Armenian Church the summer

months are dedicated to renewal and rejuvenation. It is the season

during which we celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary,

recalling how she was assumed into a new and everlasting life. As the

“Life-bearer,” St. Mary holds a unique spot in the tradition of the

church. She gives humanity a chance to renew itself in its quest for

peace.

Unique to the Armenian Church liturgies is a tradition of blessing

grapes.

This ceremony takes place during August. The fruits of the fields

and the products of labor are blessed. During this service, families

are invited to renew themselves internally and to their community.

Following the biblical metaphor of a branch producing fruit only when

it is united to the vine, in the same manner people find the fullness

of life only when connected to the source of their spirituality, that

is, God.

These traditions have their roots during the hot summer months for

many reasons, primarily because of the intensity of heat and light

which comes to us during summer. Happy re-creation!

FATHER VAZKEN MOVSESIAN

Armenian Church

Youth Ministries

“To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose

under the heaven.” These immortal words were penned by King Solomon

the wise in Ecclesiastes (3:1).

Judaism educates us to understand that our physical and spiritual

selves are dependent on each other. We strive to create a positive

synergy between the two for they are both equally important.

It is only natural that our surroundings will have an effect on

us, psychologically and, hopefully, spiritually as well. When we

witness a magnificent sunset or a breath-taking panorama, we should

use this experience to focus on the beauty of the world around us and

acknowledge the kindness of God who gave us these elements to enjoy.

We should then emulate God and in turn be kind to others as the

Talmud states that “just as God is compassionate and merciful so

should we be compassionate and merciful.”

The summer months definitely give us a unique “ability to

spiritually heal and renew.” Let us appreciate this special time and

make an extra effort to generate positive energy, goodwill, kindness

and compassion in our community.

RABBI SIMCHA BACKMAN

Chabad Jewish Center

Glendale

I always welcome the change each season brings. Each season seems

to last just long enough and each brings the promise of different

holidays and opportunities. The four seasons are ages-old and yet

they always somehow seem new when they arrive.

The quarterly variations in climate remind us that there is a

power greater than us, able to affect very personal things, like our

utility bills, our travel plans and even the clothes we wear. “Thou

hast made summer and winter” wrote the Psalmist, acknowledging God as

Lord of all physical as well as spiritual creation.

Seasonal changes often stir up emotional responses in us. Some are

welcome and some are not. But those who long for spiritual healing

need not wait for summer or any other season. They need only to draw

near in their hearts to our loving Lord.

“Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in

order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the

Lord...” (Acts 3:19).

PASTOR JON BARTA

Valley Baptist Church

Burbank

I am not familiar with the book mentioned in this week’s question,

but I will probably read it to find out why the author came up with

the idea that somehow summer has a greater spiritual effect on people

than the other three seasons.

Autumn offers us the wonderful Thanksgiving season with warm

memories of friends and family members past and present.

Spring brings us the passion of Easter and Passover and a number

of other special spiritual treats such as Palm Sunday, Good Friday

and Purim.

Winter is the season of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Summer gives us no holidays of spiritual note -- although

Independence Day comes close to being a spiritual experience.

In truth, anyone can be spiritually renewed at any time by turning

to God and keeping God first in his or her life. Renewal always comes

as a result of positive change; positive change can come to us at any

time if we put a little effort into bringing it about. Spiritual

growth is either a year-round experience or it is less than what it

could and ought to be.

THOMAS E. WITHERSPOON

Unity Church of the Valley

La Crescenta

Any chance we get to rest is a good thing. The Bible tells us that

Jesus withdrew from the crowds, and the implication is that he needed

to rest.

We’re all familiar with the old adage, “All work and no play makes

Jack a dull boy.” I wasn’t aware, however, that summertime rest is

any better than any other vacation time. For me, a bleak winter scene

can be restful, especially after Southern California summers!

When I was in high school, one of my youth directors urged me to

look at how the word “recreation” is spelled. Notice, she said, that

it is RE-CREATION. And that is what happens when we get away from it

all: we re-stoke the fires of our souls. Perhaps we re-think our

life’s path. We re-invigorate our sense of purpose.

Also, those of us in ministry have been urged in recent years to

be aware of self-care. The idea is that one cannot save the world if

one does not first save oneself! Now such a self-centered outlook can

also lead to abuse, of course. But the point is well-taken: to

prevent yourself from burning out, take care of yourself.

One final idea: whenever you’re on an airplane, the flight

attendant will announce how the oxygen mask will drop down if needed.

If we are traveling with a small child, we are to take care of our

own masks first and THEN see to the child’s mask. Again, self-care.

If YOU can’t breathe, you’re not going to be much good to the child

next to you. Have a wonderful and RE-CREATIVE vacation! I certainly

shall!

REV. SKIP LINDEMAN

Congregational Church

of the Lighted Window

United Church of Christ

La Canada Flintridge


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