Two summers ago, I experienced the liberation of completing my first year of seminary. At the age of 42, I went back to school despite the fact that it had been twenty years since I completed my undergraduate degree. After that first year of seminary, the intensity and demands of graduate school weighed heavily on me. In June 2008, the summer had finally arrived and the hours of pouring over thousands of pages of assigned reading, and the writing of endless research papers and sermons were behind me. Yes, I was ready for a break.
Sometimes, when we think our work is done and we are ready to breathe a little, we come to realize that we have many other challenges ahead of us. During the summer between my Junior and Middler year of seminary, I was required to complete a Clinical Pastoral Education program in which, I served as a “Chaplain-Intern” in a rural hospice agency. The next summer, between my Middler and Senior year, I was required to serve as a “Seminarian Chaplain” for the Diocese of Southwest Florida’s Youth Summer camps at DaySpring. Both in the summer of 2008 and in 2009, the long awaited breaks from the preparation for ministry, had to wait for a few weeks because God was not finished with me, simply because classes had ended. Despite the participation in two intense summer programs and the ongoing preparation for ordained ministry, I was able to squeeze in a few weeks of fun and relaxation. These weeks of rest and fun served to prepare me to return to class in the fall; ready for the work ahead. The summers for me proved to be a time for ongoing transformation, for preparation, and equally important, a time for rest and relaxation.
We as a community have completed a wonderful, fabulously exciting, and Spirit-filled twelve months together. As we approach our one year anniversary together, and now that “Season” in Englewood has come to an end, we can be assured that the summer will be filled with some time for relaxation and restoration for all of us. Families and couples will go off on vacation, some groups at St. David’s will slow down or meet less often, and many of our seasonal friends at St. David’s will leave us for the summer. Although in the summer we will slow down, it is not a time for mere idleness or lethargy . The summer season should be a time for us to evaluate, plan, and develop new programs/ministries, and it is a perfect opportunity to tweak internal systems. This season can be a time for us to engage in intentional reflection and discernment. It is a wonderful time to recommit our life to prayer. It is a time to recognize that in the midst of slowing down and re-evaluating, we can begin to engage in some intentional listening. We should engage in intentional prayer that seeks God’s ongoing transformational call on our lives. Through prayer and meditation, we are drawn into heart of God. In prayerful meditation, Our Lord refreshes us, restores us, and brings clarity and peace to our lives.
In the summer, in this time of the “Long Green Season,” the hangings in the church and the vestments of the clergy turn from the white of Easter, to the green of the Season after Pentecost. Green is appropriate for the summer because it symbolizes the renewal of living things, and it symbolizes the promise of new life. As we go through the weeks of the “Season after Pentecost,” may we continue to be renewed by Our Lord. May we discover that renewal manifested in our lives through prayer. Through our summer restoration, may we be open to the Spirit and be ready to discern the new life to which we are called. In this time of restoration and renewal, may we with hope and courage, live into the promises of new life, which Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ promises us.