Tuesday, July 31, 2007

VBS and the incipient end of summer

There is always that moment, isn't there, when the sense of the wind shifting its quarter-or the subtle cue that the seasons are changing-hits you right between the eyes.

Summer, for years, was a time of rest, relaxation and preparation for fall sports. I had time to work for pocket money, enjoy long runs up country roads to get in shape for soccer and generally to have fun at a leisurely pace with my friends. Then, sometime toward the end of July and the beginning of August, the days would start to count down. In Athens, the signs in the natural world consisted of a series of inversions that locked rain forest-like humidity in regions around the Ohio River Valley. Heat indexes over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Days that were almost twilit due to the moisture in the air...and my dad reminding me that I had to get five miles in before dinner in prep for two-a-days-and did I work out with Tom Sweeney who was driving to the pick up games down on campus tomorrow?

Those sensations and memories are more potent to me than the advent of the television ads for back-to-school specials.

And now, after another lifetime in parish ministry, the tones and colors are different, but the feeling is the same. Even as Laura and I begin to enjoy the tomatoes from the back garden and the basil begins to threaten to go into seed unless we prune it mercilessly, the parish is beginning to exhibit the signs of returning to its regular routines. Vacation Bible School is the hinge upon which my summer turns now...and we are deep in its glorious throes.

I do love to hear those children's voices. Marvin, Michael, Emma and a couple of the youth along with Mrs. Smith are outside my window as I write enjoying game time. There are craft projects drying on window sills throughout the parish and each morning and noon one of the clergy journeys down the hill to meet, greet and speak to the kids who are passing their time this week with us in order to enjoy community and learn a little more about the life of faith in God.

Still, that means summer is almost over...and as much as I greet it, I mourn the loss of the time and space that little lull creates in the daily routines of parish ministry.

Still, I will take that feeling over the old one...being out on some county road, five miles from home feeling my head pound with the effort of shaving a few more minutes off my work out time! Those are the trials of my past...not of the present. Nowadays, the seasonal changes are much more subtle!

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