Summer reflections from Fr. Justin

Posted on Jul 7, 2016

We have now entered Trinitytide or if you prefer ordinary time. It is called ordinary because the Sundays are ordered that is they are in order, such as “proper 10”, “proper 11”, “proper 12”.

The Summer is upon us with some consistency and we are enjoying the beauty of the outdoors and letting our bodies relax a bit in the warmth of the sun and the deliciousness of the breeze.

I feel something of a special kinship with Jesus in the summer. Recognizing that Jesus’ earthly ministry did not include a stint in Vermont or the New England winters that we enjoy/endure. His single garment woven in one piece without seam would have been ill suited even in our most recent mild winter.

But while I’m out in the yard or hiking on the trails here in Vermont, I feel the blood in my hand pumping, the cold in my neck obliterate and the stiffness of living in chairs indoors start to loosen up. I also get a sense of the speed at which my mind can race during those months of indoor work.

Jesus was an itinerate teacher. He walked quite a bit. In what was a rather warm part of the world, though I have read studies that mentioned the area was more lush than it has been over the last 1,000+ years.

For those who are able to walk for 20 minutes especially in silence and prayer, you may notice how your mind seems to slow down, sometimes even seem to stop the regular tickertape newsfeed that seems to scroll along in our heads.

If we intend to surrender the mind to the Divine Presence, the mind tends to fall away into the heart. And in the receptive heart awakened we begin to feel a great sense of intimacy in our life. This is a great foundation for us to a deeper prayer life and not only our transformation but the transformation of our relationships and the world as a whole.

In the summer months we not only get to walk around more often but we get to sit outside more often. Sit and hear the birds, smell the flowers and even play in the dirt, which for some is a garden and some is the grass. This kind of sitting gives us such a natural support for this kind of intimacy of the heart.

It’s not simply about slowing down mind, but also about experiencing more of the fullness of life. None of us is called to become a still and frozen statue of a person. Sometimes this freezing idea is a subtle pitfall for folks who are learning contemplative prayer and meditation. A quiet mind and an open heart is our great preparation for the enhancing affects the sacraments, prayer, and the beauty of nature. Besides, the summer time is no place for frozen peoples, though a few frozen drinks might be in order.

I encourage you to try walking and sitting under a shade tree, in the woods, on a trail. When you have allowed your mind to rest and you wake up, you will begin to notice in about three days that birds will begin to take special notice in you and so will the wildlife in general. So will the trees perhaps to your surprise. The heart knows very well of what it is made, and our brothers and sisters of nature recognize us too. But please don’t take my word for it, sit with your heart awake, even just 20 minutes the same time for three days. You may well have your own stories to tell.

As the weather warms up in Summer in these Green Mountains, let us order our lives to include some time letting our minds settle and hearts wake up. Let us turn our heart’s attention to God, present in all things. May God help us to awaken to the Spirit of Truth, the unconcealed life of the Divine. Amen.