Spirituality for Today – Summer 2021 – Volume 25, Issue 4s

Changing to Summer

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

Time has come to change ourselves for the new season. The twenty-first or twenty-second day of four singular months usher in spring, summer, fall, and winter along with traditional outlooks and behaviors for each. Weather is the key feature of each season and our attitude, fashion, and activities are dictated by it. Summer is a time when we are encouraged to raise our spirits, to relax a little more, enjoy friends with cookouts and fun activities. Of course, if you are a fall/winter person as I, summer is a season to be endured and to dream of October. More to the point, society has its expectations of us and looks for reassuring responses to questions like "Isn't it a beautiful day?" or "Is it hot enough for you?" Maybe I am reaching too far into it, but there almost is something spiritual, philosophical, political, and even judgmental about one's answers to these, apparently perfunctory, questions. Referencing my earlier statement about seasonal preferences, should I answer a summer lover, "I am afraid that I don't like the summer." I feel that I have raised a level of anxiety and confusion in the questioner about how to relate to me. The mood is changed somewhat with the old saying, "Well, that's what makes the world go round."

Now that I have gotten myself into this milieu of such seriousness, we certainly have been through many seasons of personal and societal expectations regarding our behavior. Although most people may not have identified our challenges with the mandates of the Great Commandment – love our neighbor as we love ourselves; our sense of responsibility, caring, and belonging to a community forced a whole series of expectations upon us. We have had to do a lot of thinking about our place in society and the impact of our self-awareness upon it. Last summer was a season of discontent: the need for personal discipline regarding the virus, social unrest, political divisiveness, and an entire array of ethical issues were in the forefront of life. For the thoughtful, much soul searching took place and, I pray, a person better than their former self arose from it.

From the viewpoint of expectations, we may ask what God expects of us; what our neighbor expects of us; what we expect of ourselves:

God – In day to day living, we need to address our faith and how we reveal it. If we say that we believe and do not love one another, we are not responding to God's will. In the parable of the man who was tormented by a demon that was driven away, the man swept and tidied his home that had been ruined by the demon. The demon returned and sought many other demons to inhabit the man's home again. The man's state now was worse than before. The meaning of the parable is that the exterior is insufficient for belief, but to act influenced in mind, heart, and soul by a spiritual unity with the Spirit represents the Will of God.

Neighbor – If we claim the name of Christian, be what that name calls us to be. A journalist noted that Ghandi was knowledgeable about the gospels and spoke so highly about the person of Jesus. Given that he held Christ and his teachings in such high regard, the journalist asked him why he had not become a Christian. Ghandi responded, "I might have become a Christian if I ever met one." Ouch!

Ourselves – We are children of God and to recognize that our hope is founded in the love of God for us. God's love promotes charity toward others and an inner realization of our dignity and self-worth. Comforted by God's love, we have the courage to seek his mercy. We cannot help but be changed through that divine love that heals a contrite heart broken by sin and upholds a resolve to witness faith every day. As Saint Paul said, "Put on Christ." In this manner, we can grow in holiness.

Sunlight may shine on one place while rain is falling on another, humanity may be found radiating goodness in one circumstance while evil might be holding sway in another. Faith, hope, and love, no matter what the circumstance, can touch the essence of who we are and what we give to our world. I stress this reality – this prayer – for you and for me. From the writings of Saint Therese of Lesieux, "The value of life does not depend upon the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place." I cannot guarantee that we have the capacity to order the complexities of the world, but I like to think that we have the ability to create an evolving self for the benefit of finding the way to live our Creator's will for us and, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, be a light on the pathway toward eternal love for others.