Retreat at Home Week 3 - Summer

Week 3 SUMMER

You will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace, taken from the hymn
 
Summer, from The Seasons’ Benedictions. 
Taken from After Prayer, Malcolm Guite
When young-leafed June is summoned by the sun,
And new-mown grass breathes fragrance through the air,
When work is over, holidays begun,
May peace and pleasure in themselves be prayer.
And in your leisure may you hear the one
Who is your blessing and by whom you’re blest
Still calling you: Come unto me and rest.
 

Reading

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Summer

In the heart’s Summertime we experience vitality, connectedness, abundance, but also rest. At times it is fruitful, fun, happy, and at other times we can rest in the shade. Summer is the opposite season to Winter, and the Season of the Heart is the same. God and others draw near, light and life surround us, and night and mourning flee away. Summertime is a taste of the Kingdom. It’s savouring a morsel of heaven, sweet and brief, where God, fully present, shines his light day and night. When your heart is in Summer – enjoy it. Rest in God’s love share, that life and light with others, deal in the economy of abundance. 

A Reflection

Summer brings us long evenings, sun kissed memories and the ability to make everything seem brighter and better. For me (Hannah), summer is encapsulated by friends, laughter and warm evenings sat around a fire pit sharing stories late into the night. It is the breathing space we give ourselves; the chance to sit and read, to worship God’s creation, to witness the beauty and to rest. I don’t think it’s the sort of rest that comes as a collapse at the end of the week but rather the sort of rest that creeps into our very bones. A true rest that sets us up for another year, for the winter ahead and the busy spring jobs. 
 
Interestingly, summer rest doesn’t mean doing nothing (much like nature which certainly doesn’t just stop in the summer!) Summer can be just as busy as the hard work of spring except it feels different. We seem to transform our manic busyness into fun refreshment. Holidays, spending time with others, sport, outdoor activities and so much more fill our summer season and yet it feels easier.  Likewise, a summer season of the spirit doesn’t mean that we do nothing with God, we don’t take a break from being with him. In fact, quite the opposite, we find it easier to be with him. We are refreshed from the time spent doing his work. We feel his presence with us guiding, nurturing and helping us to rest from the chaos of this world. We have fun in his presence. 
 
This is a season when everything seems a bit easier, faith and joy abound and it's easy to pray and be thankful for our blessings. We find acts of kindness to be almost effortless because we are in a joyous and giving mood. Which, after a season of hard work or discouragement, is quite the transformation of new life, just as winter ice melts to summer growth. It’s a glimpse of the salvation promise, a foretaste of Heaven and a renewal of hope that will sustain us through the winters ahead. 
 
As we journey through summer is God teaching us anything? Does our weekly Sabbath echo this rest and refreshment? If not, why not? God calls us all to rest in him and its good for us to find time to do just that. As some people dry flowers throughout the summer months to remind them of summer beauty when in the midst of a cold winter, we too can take ideas and habits to sustain us in our Sabbath rest all year round. 
 
Unfortunately, we won’t all experience a summer of the spirit together unlike the seasons of nature and it can feel unfair that this is the case. For those experiencing the hardship of winter, the toil of spring or the pains of a self-reflective autumn, summer can seem so very far away. Demonstrating our love of each other is essential at this time. Just as we wouldn’t brag about a jet setting holiday to someone who couldn’t afford a long weekend, we mustn’t boast in our experience of the refreshment of our spirit. Yet, just as sunlight touches all that pass through it, there are ways that we can share the joy of our summer season with those around us. What can we do for others in this season? How can we shine a light into others lives?  How does God ask us to use our rest and refreshment for his glory? 
 
This is a Meditation from George Appleton called Easy – with Him.
He begins with the bible verse and closes with a commitment as a response to God’s gift of rest.
 
Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
 

Something to ponder

A yoke helps the ox to pull the plough or the cart without chafing or extra strain. God gives us his yoke to help us to bear our burdens – gentleness and lowliness of heart. If we are trusting enough to go to him, he will give us rest and strength.
 
 

A Prayer:

Let us not seek out of you what we can only find in you, O Lord! 
Peace and rest and joy and bliss, which abide only in your abiding joy. 
Lift up our souls above the weary round of harassing thoughts to your eternal presence. 
Lift up our minds to the pure, bright, serene atmosphere of your presence, 
that we may breathe freely, there repose in your love, there be at rest from ourselves, 
and from all things that weary us: and from there return, filled with your peace (arrayed in your peace), to do and bear whatever shall best please you. Amen.
 

A commitment:

Where a deed of mine this day can help to make this world a better place for people to live in, where word of mine can cheer a despondent heart or brace a weak will, where prayer of mind can hasten the coming of Christ’s kingdom, there let me do and speak and pray. Amen.
 
He finishes with: Remember today – I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
 

A Spiritual Exercise

This is taken from Teresa of Avila, a 16th Century Spanish saint. She wrote the Interior Castle as a guide for spiritual development through service and prayer, describing the magnificent refuge inside all of us. As an exercise this week I encourage you to read this short passage daily and visualise yourself entering the magnificent refuge. Spend as long as you can here.
 
This Magnificent Refuge, by Teresa of Avila
This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter.
Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway.
Be bold. Be humble. Put away the incense
and forget the incantations they taught you.
Ask no permission from the authorities.
Close your eyes and follow your breath
to the still place that leads to the invisible path
that leads you home.
 

Prayer

Nicholas of Flue
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you. Amen.
 

Hymns

I encourage you to listen to, or even sing one of these hymns as you reflect.
 
To God be the Glory
Glorious things of thee are spoken
Praise my soul, the King of Heaven.
You shall go out with joy