Don’t be in denial … like I was! I just ran my dog around the Cathedral grounds and had a nice conversation with my sister about her summer vacation-that just ended! My cousin just texted me about his plans-as summer ends! Yesterday I gave a blessing to a couple dozen kids- as they head back to High School and College! It is finally hitting me; Summer is coming to a close. I am sad, but I’m going to change my perspective, thanks to our Pope.
A few years ago, during his celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration, Pope Francis reminded his audience that as the lazy summer months come to a close, it is a perfect time to take a step back and refocus on the essentials. “The event of the Transfiguration of the Lord offers us a message of hope: it invites us to encounter Jesus, in order to be at the service of our brothers and sisters” the Pope said during his address. While we go back to school, back to work, and back to our rat race lives, he reminded us that the image of the disciples going down Mount Tabor serves as a reminder of the importance of detaching ourselves from worldly things and walking toward Christ. And to do this, he added, involves dedicating ourselves to an “attentive and prayerful listening to Christ,” by looking for “intimate moments of prayer that allow the docile and joyful welcoming of the Word of God.” So, I encourage you to not go back to the same old routine. Do one of the following:
Grab a friend, your spouse, or your son or daughter and go for a walk. Enjoy the warm weather and burn it into your memory. You will be happy you did when February rolls around. Share with your companion your hope for the year ahead. Ask them what they are hoping for and how the Lord might be challenging them to go in a new direction. You will be amazed and happy how the conversation goes.
Vacation and summertime are one of the most beautiful times to grow closer to God as a family. At your next meal, have the family go round-robin sharing their most treasured moments of their summer and why.
This is probably the most important: Unplug and go connect with your real-life friends. Everyone is on the internet these days. Some people will keep their face pointed directly at their phones even when they’re outside. Set the phone down, step away from the computer, and experience life without the internet. Make sure you stop by and see your friends. Catch up; do things that you used to do before the Internet became a dominant force in our lives. Your brain will thank you because sometimes, you just have to get away from the web.
It seems a little old-fashioned, but go on a picnic. It can still be a lot of fun. Put some food in a basket or a cooler, go find a grassy spot somewhere, plop down, and have a meal. Take your friends or your family along and make an experience that you’ll remember. We live in Michigan where we have more than 11,000 lakes and ponds. When was the last time you enjoyed one? Do your picnic there. Visit Belle Isle or the Detroit Riverwalk which was voted in USA Today the best riverwalk in the country for the third year in a row, beating out riverwalks in cities like Tampa, Louisville, Cincinnati, San Antonio, Boston, and Indianapolis. It will help focus you and you will connect with God and yourself. And maybe there you’ll be inspired to a new kind of Autumnal growth—like signing up for The Rescue Project!
When we do things like this, as the pope says, we can rest and detach from daily concerns. We can “re-energize the forces of body and spirit, deepening our spiritual path.” Returning to the image of the Transfiguration, Pope Francis noted that the disciples went back down the mountain with “eyes and hearts transfigured by their encounter with the Lord.” I am not going to be sad that summer is ending, I am going to look at it as a new beginning. This is also a path that we can all take. He said, adding that the “ever more vivid” rediscovery of Jesus is not an end in itself, but rather something that leads us to go down the mountain ourselves, “recharged by the strength of the Divine Spirit.”
God Bless—and see you at the block party!