I wonder if we share the same childhood memories of July? For me, it all began on the evening of the Fourth. We brought our blankets and a container of lemonade to Jamaica Pond. We children were restless as we waited for the sky to darken. I can’t say that we learned patience; it was more like we learned how to tease one another just enough so that the adult pronouncement, “I have had enough! You do that one more time and we are packing up and going home!” would not be acted upon. And then the first burst appeared in the night sky, followed by magical colors and shapes that took our breath away. I remember noise. There was the boom of the fireworks being set off that was mixed up with the oohs and aahs of the crowd. And there was the inevitable crying of a few neophyte babies, frightened by the noise and colors. Finally, there was the cheering and applause as those final bursts lit up the sky.
My father usually took his vacation in July, so it was off to the beach where we played in the water, built castles in the sand and walked up to Bessie’s General Store for candy and comic books. There was sunburn that required salve and a day in the shade. I was amazed when my father went in the water and actually swam. Who knew that parents were able to have fun?
July was trips to the zoo and a day at the amusement park at Nantasket Beach. It was drive-in movies and evening dips at a local beach. It was weekly trips to the library and big family picnics at a state park.
As I think back on those wonderful, magical summer days, I also remember the Sunday mornings at church. Inside the big stone church with light filtered through the stain glass windows, I was at my other home. It was cool and quiet in the Sanctuary as I sat and waited for the organ to play. The hint of incense in the air added to the otherness of that place. As my parents were raising me to be a good and caring person, God was filling my heart with awareness of Divine love.
I did not know or, perhaps, realize that each experience of my childhood and youth was part of my formation into who I am today. Parents who loved us enough to put up with Fourth of July shenanigans, and who took us to the beach, or to the picnic, or to the amusement park were models for me on how to be a good and caring parent.
My weekly visits to the church with all its mystery and peace gave me a sense of God’s intimate presence in my life; a sense that has never left me. And, as I look back, I thank God for July and August, and all the months of the year. I thank God for what I have learned and what I am still learning. I thank God for all that has been, all that is and all that will be.
A Happy and Blessed Summer to all,