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
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
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
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
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
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
Light On The Corner
In Primeval times, the inhabitants paid homage to the sun and put
great stock in the seasons, like winter, spring, summer and even
Some people feel best in the chill of winter, others enjoy the
renewal of spring and still others look forward to the warmth of
We do not place any particular importance on the seasonal times of
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.
The warmth of the summer months lends itself nicely to a period of
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
Unique to the Armenian Church liturgies is a tradition of blessing
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
REV. SKIP LINDEMAN
of the Lighted Window
United Church of Christ
La Canada Flintridge