If your calendar is anything like mine, it is filled to the brim with end of year classroom celebrations, reminders to pick up teacher gifts, camp registration deadlines, and countless other reminders that summer is almost here. Our oldest daughter brought home her supply list for first grade and immediately asked if we could go back to school shopping…at the end of May.
While appreciating her oldest child organizational and planning skills, I had to pause for an intervention. First, my iPhone audibly groaned thinking of another reminder or calendar invitation. More importantly, she is on the brink of her first academic year summer. A kindergarten graduate at the time of this blog’s posting, she has never known the joy of a last day of school and boundless freedom that seems to await beyond the school doors. She has never experienced that clear break between the school year and summer shenanigans.
Jesus tells us to have the faith of a child, but I wonder if there is also something to having the summer of a child. Raised in the 80’s, my own childhood summers were mostly spent playing with neighbors all day, returning home for dinner, washing off the day’s adventures, going to sleep, and repeating it all again the next morning. At no point in my elementary school years was I thinking about standardized tests, reading lists, school supplies, or enrichment camps.
But how many of us can say that we are fully present in thin places, like the joy of carefree summer growing up, where earth and heaven seem to meet? Often, we adults are apt to let email creep into our early morning and evening hours. Just checking “one last time”, we go to bed with our minds on our inboxes and wake up refreshing them as soon as our eyes open. Even when we’re on vacation, the line between work and play blurs so that we end up squandering our sabbath and return to the office no more relaxed than when we put on our autoreply. We wear our hustle as a badge of courage, competing with one another about who is busier, who is more exhausted, who is most important to keep all the plates spinning.
What if we stopped?
What if we approached those moments of summer, those holy moments of pause, rest, renewal, and rejuvenation with an attitude of gratitude and intention?
What if we had the summer of a child?
Recognizing few of us have the privilege to go off the grid for an entire season of the year, I am proposing we set aside time this summer to rest, pray, and be still. Even if all we can manage is a minute here and there, think of the peace that might come by noticing blessings like catching the first firefly of the season, an impromptu cook out with friends, and water’s cool embrace during a heat wave. I know we all have meeting requests awaiting our responses, projects to wrap up, and so many spreadsheets to review. But we are also beloved children of God who deserve to be known for more than our output and contribution to the bottom line.
When my little type A walks across the stage to receive her kindergarten diploma, I pray that her school year closes with joy and another, even more wondrous season begins—full of exploration, renewal, and self-discovery. My prayer is that she, and we, have the summer of a child.