Summer . . .a spiritual vacation?

The last school bell has finally rung and smiling faces burst from classrooms in anticipation of a new and exciting summer.
The last prayer has been offered in another Young People’s Society season and everyone eagerly leaves the basements of the various churches.
And best of all, that last question for catechism has been asked and many have offered a sigh of relief. Answers have been written on that last page in the book and then the ragged pages were thrown in a drawer to stay closed until next September,
Church magazines? Well, we won’t have to read them as often as in the past months because luckily they are not printed as often during the summer months.
This is a vacation all right. We really could not ask for more. Oh, we will still have church twice on Sundays but then, I guess you really can’t expect us to have it only once just because it is summer! Besides, we will go on vacation for two or three weeks and usually we get to cut out a few services then.
Pretty pitiful, is it not? And a sad story to tell about yourself. Stop a minute. Turn your thoughts back to a year ago. How many engaged in any kind of religious discussion with another person outside of the immediate family or a best friend, the kind of discussion which concerned our Christianity or Christianity that differed from ours. Our silence speaks out loudly in answer to this kind of question and there is a shocking lack of religious experiences to tell about. Reflect a moment on last year’s Convention. What percentage of us went for a good time and had nothing to say when we split into small discussion groups or how many even skipped the discussion groups altogether? And what about the convention you are going to attend this August? The same kind you went to a year ago or have you finally grown tired of taking that shallow, who-cares-about-religion attitude? The entire attitude that we take on about what summer really means smothers the true meaning and that which is gloriously beautiful about summer. When we begin to think that the goal of summer is to have more fun, more freedom and a better time that we had the summer before then apathy crowds out the things that make ones life significant and we lose interest in most things that even seem to touch lightly on the surface of something serious. With what are all the hours we spent in school, society, and catechism replaced? How many even attempt to write a contributing article for BEACON LIGHTS? Now many articles are even read in those two summer issues? We can twist and turn summer into what we think it is but we cannot escape the face that summer is not as escape from God.
Summer does not stay long and it is soon overtaken by a new season that pulls together another year of school, societies, and catechism. The closer we approach a new season the more frowns we see, the more remarks we hear that summer has passed so soon and we hardly had begun our fun. We complain that it seems we just got out of school, catechism and Young People’s and now here we are right back into it again. And, of course, we will always hear from all those who are so glad that this is their last year of school and/or catechism.
Perhaps before we are very far into this summer it would be a good idea if we would evaluate ourselves in light of the fun-filled season ahead. Why are we going to try take one long spiritual vacation? Look out over the beaches, over the sand dunes, in the resorts, and where ever thousands of people are squeezing the last drops of desperate pleasure out of their summers. Talk to these people. Go beyond the smiling, sunburned faces. The emptiness, loneliness, and desperation that marks all of their and often our lives seems strangely enough to be sharpened by their season of incredible beauty. Ask yourself why and after you have answered this question go walk the beaches and ski and laugh out under the sun. But go with the realization that your human spirit needs Jesus Christ especially when life is so much fun. Go, and hold no regrets when you feel the urge to be alone out under the stars or in your cottage bedroom. It may make this summer the most significant you have ever spent.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 4 June/July 1971