The sights and sounds of summer can instantly offer a “refresh” moment in our lives. Fresh air, sunny skies, and warmer temperatures invite us outdoors! The more relaxed and less-hectic (we hope!) pace of the summer months also gives us a chance to slow down, reflect, and reconnect with ourselves, our friends, and yes, even God! Here are five tips for making the most of this time of year.
1. Vacation church search
Rather than taking a vacation from church, make church an exciting part of your vacation by celebrating Mass somewhere new. While on vacation, make it a point to find an old, popular, or interesting place of worship nearby. If you’re in the tropics, search for an open-air church. If you’re vacationing on the East Coast, check out a historical church. If you’re opting for a stay-cation this summer and sticking close to home, visit a new parish in your community. You never know where you will find inspiration!
2. Rekindle your spark
Plan a backyard or beach bonfire with family, close friends, or by yourself! Relax. Roast some marshmallows and make s’mores. When you’re comfortable, reflect on the aspects of your life where you’re succeeding. Congratulate yourself with another s’more! Then, think about what’s holding you back. Write down a list of those things that are keeping you from being the person God wants you to be and throw the list into the fire, burning the paper to mark a fresh start.
3. Stop to smell the roses
Take time to appreciate God’s world around you. Walk barefoot in the grass or on the beach. Swim in a natural pond, lake, or the ocean. Sit under a beautiful old tree or go for a hike. And while you’re in nature, spend some one-on-one time with God. Share your gratitude for the gifts in your life, including the gifts of nature and the environment, and enjoy your time surrounded by God’s beautiful creations.
4. Write it down
Start a Summer Spiritual Journal. Each day, record moments when you feel close to God and moments when God feels further away in your daily life. Writing them down will help you reflect on these times and may bring to light new moments of strength or challenge in your faith. In addition to your personal reflections, write down quotes, phrases, or Scripture that are meaningful and relevant to you at that moment. You might remember something you’ve read or heard from a friend during the day. In doing so, you may find new ways to think about your daily interactions with God and others.
5. Class it up
Take a class or go on a retreat to rejuvenate your spirit. Find a summer Bible study or discussion group in your parish or community. Sign up for an art class to feed your creative side. Have you always wanted to learn a musical instrument? Now is your time to give it a try. Or take a cooking class to improve your culinary skills. At the end of the summer, show off your newfound talents to friends and family by playing some music or hosting a dinner party. If you have an unplanned long weekend, find a religious retreat near you or visit one of these locations and have your own personal retreat that might include journaling (read #4 above), a favorite prayer, and reading cherished Scripture or other spiritual texts in order to reconnect with God.