It is amazing how our memories work.

We can bring up the past and sometimes the recollection can be so vivid our feelings are stirred up and sensations arise.

I used to do pastels on location during summer vacations and it is amazing how I can step right back into that moment. I remember one time painting at Lake Tahoe under a tree working on a vista in the distance. I remember how hot it was, that there were mosquitoes and that I didn’t bring enough water.

There are no perfect summer moments or perfect days in any season of our lives. Things never seem to turn out exactly as planned. We plan for a vacation or some time away and things happen.

Joy can be tinged with sadness or frustration with unexpected upsets as in our reservations are not in the computer or we have an accident or a loved or ourselves gets sick or the news of the world cannot be ignored.

Unexpected upsets will always surprise us no matter how well everything was planned. And unexpected upsets include the outside world and the news talked about wherever we are, such as, catastrophic fires in the west and floods and tornadoes in the east, gun violence in our country and around the world, the issues at our border, the historic volcano flow on the big island of Hawaii—let alone the traffic jams as we make our summer get away.

Sometimes we think we are left alone to suffer through something.

How do we reset? How do we get more deeply in touch with an inner place of refreshment and peace? I have always found my morning meditation practice an indispensable way to reset and to navigate the day with an anchor of connection. Yes, connection to a power, a spiritual being, a one greater than myself.

I do believe in God as a higher power calling me to my higher purpose and role in this lifetime. And nature feels like I am in a healing energy field.

Summer invites moments of lingering with a sunset and enjoying the smell of a barbecue with loved ones, another living reset button. The roses in my backyard are bursting with fragrance and summer seems to invite us to take time and smell the flowers.

Summer also invites the opportunity for outdoor get togethers, to catch up with friends and family over a barbecue or picnic. I love that.

Being outdoors I linger longer over a meal. Summer is s’more time!... S’more time to appreciate a different pace. Summer can be a making memories time. As I shared in the beginning of this article, recollections can be so vivid our feelings are stirred. I can start some sentences with, “I will never forget the summer when we…”

But…Not everyone leaves for a summer vacation but everyone notices the longer days of sunlight, more warmth than during the year. And so I ask that however summer is for you, remember that God is in it all, surprises, joy-filled moments and unexpected upsets. We are not alone in our joys and in our sorrows. God does not take a vacation, but is always with us!

May you continue to enter these summer months in the grace and power of now. Hold all the different feelings that stretch your heart.

Be mindful as you breathe. Breathe as you feel anxious. Breathe in thanksgiving for love and laughter filled moments shared with others. And may you pray as you can, not as you can’t.

Pray in your own spiritual way for those who are housebound, for those who cannot go outside and be in nature or enjoy a barbecue, for those in hospice and for those that might have no one to pray for them. Pray for those who are homeless or in any kind of prison whether physical or of their emotional making. Pray knowing that God is not on vacation and loves you and loves each one of us with every grace we most need!

Rev. Paul Vukmanic is rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church, 2200 via Rosa, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274

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