Monday, 22 August 2016

summer sweetness & seasons of the soul

It's breezy today and there is a soft grey cloud cover filtering out the strong, hot rays of this past week.  For the fair and freckled, like myself, the day is perfect.  I've opened the doors at either ends of the house to allow the faint scent of the river to flow through and mingle with the humid air drifting in from the lake.

I am sitting alone in my room luxuriating in the delicious solitude of this moment.  The rest of my family left for home a few hours ago and I will join them again in a day and a half.  But in the meantime, I am enjoying quiet; not necessarily silence, but the kind of quiet that lets me hear wind rustling through the leaves, the honking of rowdy geese flying low over the river, two little girls giggling at the park, the rhythm of my own thoughts flowing uninterrupted, and maybe even those whispers of God as He leans in close to share words that nourish my spirit and prepare me to move into the next season as it unfolds. For whether I am ready or not, summer is coming to a close soon.

I've just completed Mark Buchanan's book Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of your Soul.  With the carefully crafted words of a poet, Mark takes the reader on a stroll through the four seasons and the activities that characterize them, and then uses them as an analogy for the spiritual seasons of our soul.  Since it's summer now, I've especially related to the observations he makes about this time of year and how it corresponds with a summer of the soul...the beauty, the bounty, the energy, the leisure, the warmth. Who doesn't love summer?

For most of us, there is a unique sweetness about summer that makes us want to savour every moment the way we would savour the taste of a lush, ripe plum picked right off the tree and eaten while the sun's heat still permeates its skin.  (I got to do that for the first time ever this summer.  What a treat for a girl from the praires.)  Yet we know deep down, even as the sweet juice drips through our fingers and off our chin, that we must be present to the moment, giving thanks for these summer gifts even as they occur.

We help ourselves to the plums and enjoy.  If we hold onto them too long, they spoil.

I have to remember this as I try not to hold too tightly to the dreamy stretch of weightless days that have allowed us all to drift and daydream a little; to pause from the rushing, racing, accomplishing we do all year.  There have been so many "ripe plum" moments:  sitting in candlelight out on the front deck listening to my younger son play guitar till midnight, riding bike quietly under the stars with my daughter, walking and splashing along the lake shore with my mom and sister, savouring a few quiet mornings alone with my mocha and my Lord, going for a long swim up the river with my husband and a night swim out on the boat just the two of us, listening to each of my children share personal things that have been significant and meaningful to them this summer, cheering my brother on as he wake-surfs in his 60's (sorry for telling!!) and my 10 year-old nephew do the same for the first time, observing and respecting my oldest son as he becomes a man - making his own choices and stretching out into his independence, watching my kids with their cousins laughing and having fun, delighting in the deep heart-to-heart talks with a life long girlfriend during her visit,  playing volleyball in the sand until it's too dark to see, preparing and enjoying meals with a multitude of family and friends, eating ice cream with gramma and grampa and all of us, laughing at teenage boys dancing to house music beneath pulsing speakers out on the boat....all of this and SO MUCH MORE.  My heart is full to the brim and spilling over.

A year and a half ago I starting collecting letters to make up the word "nourish" to put over a collage of family images at the lake.  This summer I finally completed it and put it up on the wall.  It turned out perfectly, for I knew that our times together at the lake would be times of nourishment, for our bodies, yes, but especially for our souls.

As I spend my last few days here at the lake, I find myself thinking ahead to what next summer is going to be like, hoping for many more wonderful family times together, yet knowing that our oldest son will have graduated from high school by then and be getting ready to leave for collage in another province.  My heart aches at the thought of it.  It will be another kind of letting go and I'm not sure if I've had practice enough to do it very gracefully.  In the words of one of my favourite authors Katrina Kenison:
I looked around...and tried to memorize the moment, to burnish it by my own attention into a keepsake that I might store away now and retrieve later, on a day when the sparkle and intimacy of the holiday had long since vanished from the house...The irony, of course, is that every moment of our togetherness contains the seed of a farewell, that life is always a dance of coming together and moving away again.  Somehow we must learn to be nimble in our steps, to welcome both togetherness and solitude, to move boldly, easily, out into the world and to honour as well the soul's requirements for rest, replenishment and reflection."  (p. 249  The Gift of an Ordinary Day)

So today, in the peace and contentment of some sparkling alone moments, I thank God for all the sweetness and nourishment he has provided this summer, for the summer season of my soul right now, and for the year ahead that is full of possibilities and beauty -- even in the letting go.

words and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2016 (unless otherwise cited)


  1. Fabulous soul sharing from God's human art: Melodious! Thanks for thinking of all of us on your birthday and digging deep into your well to bring up water for us! TONZ of love from joey xoxo

  2. I finally had a chance to savour reading your post with a cup of tea, and as always, I am touched by your wonderful way of expressing what is true for you and true for all of us. Thank you for sharing your beautiful soul with the world through your words and images and presence (for those of us lucky enough to spend time with you). I am so happy I got to see your beautiful home where all this magic happens.

  3. Precious Chantal. I am speechless. No words to reply yo such lavish love. Thank you for your faithful friendship and love and your gorgeousness inside and out.


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