August begins, and summer deepens. We move slowly through the heat. I am nostalgic enough, and hopeful enough, to think of deep summer as that time when we can slow down... maybe take some time off... take a pause from routine.
Paradoxically, it is in these times of stopping and trying to be still that our waters are often stirred up. That may have not been our tired intent when we took a break, but when routine ceases and defenses are down... well, it's still Pentecost, after all, and the wind of change that accompanies this church season blows through many an unsuspecting summer vacation.
As one of my favorite hymns reminds:
Spirit, Spirit of gentleness,
blow through the wilderness,
calling and free.
Spirit, Spirit of restlessness,
stir me from placidness,
Wind, Wind on the sea.
Using even a long weekend (or a short park walk), summer can bring home to our bodies movements and shifts that we are on the cusp of, or amidst, or quietly hoping for -- aka movements of the Spirit.
Like all church seasons Pentecost traffics in "spiritual formation" -- i.e. the many ways we grow in our relationship with God. The writer and teacher Henri Nouwen describes this formation not as steps or stages with an end point, but as "movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that reunite us with God, each other, and our truest selves."
This whole idea of movement...
from something unhealthy to something liberating and life-giving... is often at the heart of a sudden summer insight--when we can no longer hide from how something is in motion: How what used to work no longer does... or how a closed heart is starting to open. (For a playful and profound exploration of Nouwen's work around the movements in our lives, come to Summer Camp for the Soul).
So in this time of summer heat and stillness, when the city slows... what movements of the Spirit can you detect that are afoot in your life--whether welcome or not? Where are you restless? Are you being stirred from placidness?