There comes a point every summer when I realize we aren’t going to complete everything on our summer bucket list.
I have big dreams in May (I’ve made lists on poster board) of fun things to do with my kids in summer. I’m determined to have an extraordinary time and cram in as much as possible. Camping! Hiking! Fishing! Backpacking! Paddleboarding! Building a giant sandcastle! Homemade ice pops! We cover many of these, but my imagination tends to run a bit ahead of my available time, energy and budget.
We might hike up a mountain or paddleboard across a lake once or twice, but more often we sit on lawn chairs in the backyard and read. We water the lettuce and see if any is ready to pick. We walk down the street to see if the neighbor kids are out. We eat store-bought ice pops. These ordinary things end up being pretty fun. Sometimes the small moments are the best times.
Ordinary things can teach us important lessons, bring great delight and even carry the holy—just as water does at baptism and bread and wine do at communion.
Summer is “ordinary time” in our lectionary cycle, the assigned readings for each Sunday’s worship service. No special church season, no high church holidays—just one regular Sunday after another. Or are they? Several readings this summer highlight small, ordinary things: bread, water, yeast, fish, a mustard seed. Ordinary things can teach us important lessons, bring great delight and even carry the holy—just as water does at baptism and bread and wine do at communion.
Last winter my family and I left our snowy hometown for our first real vacation since the pandemic. When our airplane landed in a sunny, tropical destination, I anticipated a big reaction from my children. “Look, Mom!” my 6-year-old shouted. “Grass!”
The ordinary mattered so much.
Ordinary summer moments matter too. May we find joy in the little things and, in them, experience God’s presence.
- Take a micro-hike and explore. Grab a photo frame (or cut one out from cardboard), go outside and set it down in a yard or park. What do you notice? Look closely, observing flora, fauna, patterns, shadows and light. You might use a magnifying glass or bring along a sketchbook to record what you see.
- Keep a running list of little joys and simple pleasures. Write them on a poster board, type them in a document or put them on slips of paper in a jar. Then read them together at summer’s end.
- Share small moments. At mealtime invite each person to share something that brought them joy, peace or delight that day.