The case for summer
I think I should dub August the month of nostalgia. I’m not sure what it is about these late summer days, but I’m finding myself particularly wistful as I soak up the sticky warmth and warbling ice cream trucks and cicadas singing in the evening. There was a time that, whenever someone asked me which season was my favorite, I’d respond, “This one!” Whether summer, spring, winter, or fall, I’d always claim that I most preferred the present. There’s a beauty to the seasons, to be sure, and a newfound appreciation that I find comes at the cusp of each. But you know what I’ve decided? Now, summer is my real favorite.
You see, summer is the best. And I’ve noticed a troubling trend lately, one that always seems to rear its pesky head around this time: wishing away summer in favor of fall, a time of pumpkin spice lattes and cozy flannel and crunchy leaves underfoot. This just won’t do. You see, I’ve discovered a depth of summer joy like never before. Yes, there’s the classic delight of pruney pool fingers and juicy watermelon chunks and late, glorious sunsets. But then there’s the discomfort, too. The sunburn and sweat and mosquitos and relentless heat, the seeming downsides that may provoke one to hurry the approaching season. I get it.
But the thing is, summer reminds me of eternity. And I want eternity. I long most ardently for it. There have been days of late that I’ve just ached with weariness. Weariness at my daily life, weariness at the state of my heart, Church, world. And with that comes a temptation to wish time away. Or to slip through the grille at the chapel I visit every morning, to the side with the pink-clad nuns who pray and work and live in a manner that is wholly not of this world. Or to fast forward to the days when I’m old and grey and fast approaching my true home.
But summer brings me back. The heat, the sweat, the swelling bug bites remind me that I am alive, and here, and now. There’s a timelessness to summer days. A length and depth to the hours of sun and of tourists ambling up and down my street. I move more slowly in these long days, with a special fatigue and contentment known only to summer. And in those rare spells when I submit and truly lean into the discomfort, giving thanks for the sun’s life-giving rays and sweat glands that are merely doing their job, I am quiet and calm and present, fully alive, in the moment. Which, for now, is the only way to taste eternity.
Perhaps this is it: in summer, the mind slips sideways. At least, that’s what I console myself with as I reread these words and think to myself, Does this even make any sense? As I sit in my stuffy third floor bedroom under a blessed ceiling fan, listening to carefree passersby down below. As I look forward and back and am lulled into a sleepy summer stupor.
I’m nostalgic for a summer that hasn’t even ended, and I yearn for a heaven that feels so far off. A perfect contradiction. Here I am in the middle, with the choice to feel restless and caught and displaced, or to embrace the perplexing weariness and enter most deeply into the mystery. Further up and further in I’ll go.
And who knows, maybe in a month’s time I’ll have changed my fickle mind and be writing “The case for fall.” But until then, I’m going to embrace these days of eternity.