A Lesson in the Joys of Summer

Let’s Read 

The World is Awake: A Celebration of Everyday Blessings by Linsey Davis with Joseph Bottum, and illustrated by Lucy Fleming

This beautiful book celebrates “the day the Lord has made,” a joyful family experience of nature and time together. It’s a great way to look ahead to summer fun and relaxation.

Davis, Linsey, et al. The World Is Awake: a Celebration of Everyday Blessings. Zonderkids, 2018.

You can get this book from your local library, independent bookstore, OR…

Let’s Think
For us:  
Happy summer! The World Is Awake reminds us of the joys that await us during this beautiful season. Have you embraced summer yet? Have you eased into this time of family time, vacation, water, sand, relaxation, and play? When you do get into the spirit of summer, remember that you’re in good company. The best company: God. God’s the one that began this whole rest and vacation idea way back in the beginning – literally “In the beginning.” According to the Bible Book of Genesis, God created the world and then rested.* Yes, he had the first time-off. Shortly thereafter it was codified in the Ten Commandments. God made it law. And keep in mind that God only gave us ten Commandments. They’re all vitally important for living the good life and one of them is keeping the Sabbath holy. For Christians, the Sabbath day is Sunday. It is a day for worship and spending time with family. It is a day of rest and doing good for others. Vacations are a type of Sabbath because they are for rest and play and leisure. But what does it actually mean for a Christian to take time out and time off? Jesus himself said it was important. But how do we do it well?

The word vacation gives us a clue. It comes from a Latin word which means to “empty oneself out.” In our busy modern world, we tend to fill our vacations with trips and lots of activity. But originally, they were times not for filling, but for emptying. We are called to “empty” ourselves of our busy-ness so there is time to just BE. Studies have shown that our children need this empty time desperately. Leisure is not only time away from our usual work schedules, or even just entertainment. Leisure time is holy and something necessary for Christians to have. What might this time just for BE-ing look like? We can:

  1. BE with others. Slowing down creates the opportunity to share more time with others who are special to us, to relate in ways we don’t usually have time for. It means putting aside our phones and work obligations to spend face-to-face time with friends and family. It means hanging out, just doing nothing with people we love.
  2. BE in nature. We are unique among the creations of God as we are made in his image and likeness, but we are still creatures. Spending time in creation can fill our souls with peace. The natural world helps us let go of the worry we keep all bottled up. Nature soothes. Just looking at a natural vista lowers our blood pressure.
  3. BE in the moment. Everyone seems to be talking about mindfulness these days. It means being present in the moment, enjoying what is instead of fretting about what already happened or what might happen in the future. How much goodness do we miss when we are ruminating about the past or future. For Christians, mindfulness also means remembering that God is in charge and God is good. We don’t have to control it all. Take a breath and consider your present, right here, right now.
  4. BE with God. Take time for wonder and awe. Praise the Creator, giver of all these beautiful gifts. Each evening, help your child(ren) pray a thank you for all those beautiful summer sights and experiences. When you say Grace, mention God’s goodness in the variety of colors and tastes of fruits, vegetables, and grilled delicacies before you. Attend Mass and receive the greatest gift of all.

For our children:  
The Bible says that God rested after he created the world. We remember that with the Sabbath day each week – Sunday. God wants us to rest too. We work sometimes, we play sometimes, and we rest sometimes. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. The first words of this picture book are, “This is the day the LORD has made.” It is! God made today and all our days. During summer we get to enjoy more of God’s beautiful creation. We have more time for rest and for play. We can spend time together and spend some time just doing nothing! It’s a beautiful gift. Let’s remember to say thank  you to God for all the joys of summer.

Let’s Talk

  1. The Bible says that God rested after he created the world. God doesn’t need to sleep (because he doesn’t have a body) so how do you think God rested?
  2. People work and play and rest. What work do you have to do this summer?
  3. How would you like to rest and play?
  4. How can we show God that we appreciate nature this summer?

Let’s Do
A Summer Acrostic
An acrostic is a kind of poem in which certain letters of each line spell out a word or message.

Write an acrostic poem for the word SUMMER that highlights things you’d like to do this season, ways that you will BE with others, nature, and God.
Materials Needed
: colored paper, pencil, marker, pictures of summer fun cut from magazines or drawn, scrap 
paper

  1. Write your acrostic poem on scrap paper. Write the word summer with one letter on each line. Then decide what summer experiences you want to write for each letter. For example, for S you could write, Sunshine reflecting on the water.
  2. Copy your poem onto the colored paper. Write it in pencil if you’d like, then go over the words with marker.
  3. Decorate the pate with fun summer pictures.
  4. Put this poem up to remind you to take time to be with others, nature, and God this summer.

Let’s Pray
Dear God,
It’s summer!Summer is great in so many ways.
There is more time to DO all the things I love to do.
There is also more time to just BE.
There is time to BE with others and time to BE with you, God.
There is time to rest and play.
Thank you for all your gifts to me:
For grass to run on
and water to swim in.
For sprinklers to dance in
and popsicles to turn my mouth
red or blue or orange or purple.
For bicycles and friends
and fireworks and watermelon.
Thank you for all of nature
and all the people who are dear to me.
Thank you, God, for summer!
Amen

Word Every Catholic Should Know
Sabbath: The day we rest from our regular work as God did after the world was created. This story of creation is found in the Bible in the Book of Genesis. Christians celebrate the Sabbath day on Sunday. On this day Catholics attend Mass, spend time with family, and do acts of charity. Sunday is also called the Lord’s day because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday.

Scripture
Mark 2:23-27

Great Quote
As he left for the Vatican’s summer residence one year, Pope Saint John Paul II said, “Through the recreation and leisure made possible by travel, people are restored and renewed, body and spirit. They return home to family and work with a new perspective and enthusiasm for life.”

Let’s Remember
Write a list of things you want to do this summer that will help you just BE: Be with others. Be in nature. Be with God.

* See book lesson # 5 for a discussion about Catholic teaching on creation and evolution.

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