Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake.
Their offspring will continue forever, and their glory will never be blotted out.
Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name lives on generation after generation.
The assembly declares their wisdom, and the congregation proclaims their praise.
On Monday, we will celebrate Memorial Day—the unofficial start to summer. We’ll sprint through weeks of sunscreen, hotdogs, camp trunks full of dirty clothes, mosquito repellant, swimming pool water, beach sand, melted sno-cones, and the shards of ten thousand broken pairs of sunglasses until we hit the finish line of Labor Day.
In between Memorial Day and Labor Day is July 4th—and in the United States, these three holidays form the bulwark of our civically minded and semi-religious holidays. This means we don’t really have a liturgy to follow, even though we do have prayers for each of these occasions featured in The Book of Common Prayer. Our culture has created some basic ways to observe these days—parades, marching bands, fireworks, speeches by local politicians, etc.
But you and I both probably suspect that there’s just one semi-liturgical observation that really matters most in celebrating summer: the reunion.
Whether it’s a family, roommate, college, high school, marching band, military buddy reunion, or what-have-you, each and every summer we do our best to meet up and squeeze the people we love most. Invariably during those times together, we will talk about people we love and see no longer—those people who are part and parcel of our communities but are also established members of the great cloud of witnesses.
In sharing our memories—our joys and the grief that comes with death, we will laugh until we cry, and then cry until we laugh. And tell the same stories over and over, explaining the details to the younger generation, so they can tell their babies the same stories, one day when we are gone. And we will eat too much watermelon and barbecue, sleep too little and too sweaty, and maybe forget to wear sunblock. But our hearts will be refreshed and the bonds between our hearts and those in our various communities and families will be refreshed.
Even if you only stay at home this summer, drag out the boxes of photos—maybe even your grandparents’ slide show from that time they went to the Grand Canyon in 1972, even if it’s just to marvel at the amount of hair they once had or the sheer wonder of polyester plaids and prints. Re-read your old letters. Tell your littles and young folk stories from your young summers—of learning to swim or ride a bike or fall in love.
Share the stories of people who helped make you who you are—parents, grandparents, camp counselors, battle buddies, siblings, you name it. Share the stories of the people you love with the people you are in the midst of loving. You will make new stories and memories in the telling and sharing of the old, and it will be beautiful.
This is the way we celebrate our memories—our best days—our memorial days and independence days—so that as the summer makes the tight turn into fall, we may begin our labors with full and happy hearts.
What summer traditions do you have? or – do you want to create?