The Slow Days of Summer

I’m not a fan of summer heat. I never have been, always preferring mountains to beaches, winter to summer. The heat gets to me, but neither do I like being cooped up in air conditioning, so I have tended to wish away the summer as I impatiently await the coolness of autumn. But a few weeks ago our pastor said something about enjoying the slow days of summer, and that’s been sitting in the back of my mind as we go through an extended stretch of very hot days.

I remember the summer of 2011, when I knew that my cat Bituminous’ days were winding down, and I wanted to cherish the time I had left with him. He and I enjoyed many slow, relaxed days together on the deck, before his time came in August. I sketched, read, watched and listened to birds, and held Bituminous.

The summer of 2016 was Rowan’s last, and he was no longer up to going out and about with me, as he had for many years as my Medical Alert Service Dog. The bond between us was strong and deep, and I was loathe to leave him behind any more than necessary, so once again I spent long, slow summer days on the deck with a beloved companion. Those days were precious, and I’ll always remember the poignant peace of that final summer with Rowan. I read, sketched, watched and listened to birds, and enjoyed Rowan’s presence and also a sense of God’s presence giving me peace in the midst of anticipation of loss.

This summer has been full with travel and multiple family visits– very enjoyable, but not exactly a contemplative pace of life. Following one visit with family, I came down with Covid-19 and spent the next six weeks recovering– not exactly my plan for this summer. But those weeks were slow by necessity and became a rich time of reading, sketching, watching and listening to birds, and becoming more deeply aware of God’s presence with me, despite less than ideal circumstances. Or, looking back over these three slow-paced summers, perhaps because of less than ideal circumstances.

Have I been so driven by my desire to accomplish things or so focused on the discomfort I feel on hot days that I have needed less than ideal circumstances to refocus me on what really matters? I am thankful to be fully recovered from Covid-19 and very thankful neither of my pets seems to be nearing the end of their time with me, but I want to heed the words of our pastor to enjoy these slow days of summer. I want to take time to sit on my deck with Stephen or Ramble or a friend, to read, to sketch, to watch and listen to the birds, and to become aware of God’s presence and his quiet voice that is easily drowned out when my life is fast-paced without pauses for slow, reflective time. I am thankful I haven’t wished away this summer, and that there are still slow and, yes, even hot days remaining before the delightfully crispy days of fall arrive.