Have you started packing yet? For some Memorial Day weekend is the start of summer. For clergy types, it’s often Pentecost – the end of the “great 50 days” between Easter and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles in wind and flame. In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit is “Advocate” meaning helper and one who walks beside. So God wants us to have a power that walks beside us as we live our lives of faith in every season.
Have you started packing yet? For summer I mean. Trips, camps, family reunions, getaways to longed for beaches or mountains or Disney or Broadway? Quick, without a second thought, what appears in your mind when you think refreshing mind, body, and spirit?
We visited in staff meeting today about how hard overall life still seems to be for so many. And I very much believe we are in systemic grief which often shows itself as anger. Systemic fatigue, which often shows itself as anger. A universal feeling of being overwhelmed without having any control to make things better, which, say it with me, often shows itself as anger. Are we willing to admit that maybe sometimes we resemble those remarks? Those feelings and that anger are not abnormal, not one bit. And finally, they are also not a resolution, and not particularly helpful or healthy for us or anyone around us. And no, I am not a professionally trained anything in making those statements. Just a common caring clergy-type that looks around at human beings a fair amount, and says what I see from my particular perspective.
So what do we do, if in fact, we might resemble a little of that? I’d love if there was a step-one-step-two-step-three-DONE! formula. Alas and alack, if there is a universal formula, I know not of it. What I do know is that we can make some choices that might offer some strength and healing.
Reach out to your group of friends and let your group of friends know you might need reached toward. We are great givers of care, most of us; not always so good at asking or receiving. We need to get over ourselves and be willing to do both. Reciprocal relationship can change oh so many things for the better.
Intentionally decide to do those things you know strengthen your faith. Start your day with a devotional reading with foundation in scripture. Create a gratitude box or jar where you commit to depositing at least one piece of paper daily that says something for which you are grateful. On days that are particularly difficult, pull out one of those pieces of paper so you can remember something for which you are grateful. Attend worship. Shameless plug? Yes AND! I know what attending worship does for my spirit when I am on a break from Grace. Being, for me, an anonymous regular worship attendee refreshes my spirit in ways nothing else can.
Move. Wait, what? I didn’t say move away. snort Move. Move your body. Your arms, your legs, your hands, your toes, your ears if you can – my dad can but no matter how hard I try, I cannot. Scrunch up your face then relax it. Stretch. Call Robin Olson and find out about Yoga. Stroll through your neighborhood. Skip. Dance. Do jumping jacks. Shoot baskets. Throw a frisbee. Fly a kite. Take a blanket to a park, spread it out under a tree and look through the limbs to the clouds and let the dappling of the sunlight through the leaves make you smile. Move your body however you can, I promise it makes you feel better.
Do a random act of kindness for someone you do or don’t know and do it anonymously. It is so much fun, and I’m not even kidding. It’s a little bit of Christmas that only you know about hidden in your heart. Give a gift that is unexpected and shows you care about the person, their circumstances, what they are facing. Don’t ask them what they need! Figure it out! Just the act of taking the time to figure it out may often mean more than the gift itself because you cared!!! The paradox? You’ll feel better yourself.
Friends, this is not about solutions or resolutions for clinically diagnosed depression. This is simply me so much wanting all of us to take advantage of a slower pace that summer often offers. Vacate from stress and anxiety for periods of time. Vacate the need to be right and point out how wrong everyone else is for periods of time. Vacate all the screen time and let the sunshine and blue sky, or the rumbles of thunder and the rain remind you there’s a world out there to be experienced directly! Find time for the things, people, places that make your spirit soar high and wide and into the expanse of God’s blessing.
Maybe the sacred rhythm of God’s grace during this summer season will ground us enough to let the Spirit who walks beside us offer healing, forgiveness, a generosity toward others, and a hope that outlasts every drop of anger so we can face into the grief, the fatigue, the feelings of being overwhelmed and out of control, and be reconciled and maybe even redeemed.