Slowing Down for Summer

Written By Robert Campbell

Summer seems to have come suddenly this year. I've not even had time to forget my New Year's resolutions, and the summer months are already here. This time of year always seems to offer a much needed opportunity to slow down, take stock, and listen to what your life may be trying to tell you. It's also a good time to catch up on reading, which, incidentally, was one of my resolutions.

Three things in my "to be read or re-read" pile on the outer reaches of my desk drew my attention recently. The first is from Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself":

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of a wren,
And the tree-toad is a chief-d'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,
And the mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

The second is a portion of a book review by Fran Shaw, Ph.D., that appeared in the magazine Parabola...Myth, Tradition, and the Search for Meaning. The book, Singing to the Sound: Visions of Nature, Animals and Spirit, was written by Brenda Peterson. Commenting on Peterson's keen love for all created life, Shaw writes:

We feel remorse for a kind of blind arrogance with which we live. So when, occasionally, the author lapses into anthropomorphizing animals—sea lions barking "like a chorus of mourners" after the kill—we excuse the excesses. Other forms of life may not have human feelings, but then, apparently, neither do we—until we feel with our whole being the interconnectedness of all life. Peterson's compassion is not just for the animals but for us as well…

Finally, the third excerpt is from writer and theologian Frederick Buechner in his book Wishful Thinking…A Theological ABC. What follows is his definition for "life":

The temptation is always to reduce it to size. A bowl of cherries. A rat race. Amino acids. Even to call it a mystery smacks of reductionism. It is THE mystery. As far as anybody seems to know, the vast majority of things in the universe do not have whatever life is. Sticks, stones, stars, space—they simply are. A few things are and are somehow aware of it. They have broken through into Something, or Something has broken through into them. Even a jellyfish, a butternut squash. They're in it with us. We're all in it together, or it is in us. Life is it. Life is with. After lecturing learnedly on miracles, a great theologian was asked to give a specific example of one. "There is only one miracle," he answered. "It is life.'"

Whatever you find yourself doing with your life this summer, take some time to find your Self doing it. And, take some time to be with, to listen to, the larger whole—the blades of grass, the crunching cow, the tree toad, the sea lions, a butternut squash, young beauty—your own beauty.…Enjoy your summer.