This month our host, Margaret, has invited us to reflect on summer for our Spiritual Journey First Thursday. (In January the topic was our OLW, in February the moon, in March music, in April poetry, and in May special days.)
Take a look at this link to see how little the temperature changes.)
The exception is summer, not for the population at large but for me as a teacher in an American-style school. On Monday I finished shutting down my classroom and covering my shelves with plastic; I go back to work the first week of August. Summer is a fallow time, a time of quiet and rest, a time for reading books I couldn't get to all year, making sun tea, staying barefoot and in my pyjamas. Summer is, many years, a time for travel and seeing different views. It's a time for reminding myself that not everyone in the world is focused on the same issues that preoccupy my days, a time for remembering that there's a world out there at all.
Summer for me is an extended Sabbath, and I do recognize how blessed I am that it is so. Most people do not get the privilege of ten weeks of rest and change right at the warmest time of the year.
James 1:17: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
Sabbath is about pure gift; it's about receiving from God when you don't work, about being taken care of by God when you don't hustle. My OLW this year is ENOUGH, and summer is all about enough. It's about enjoying it while it lasts, every sun-soaked moment. It's about recognizing, with Shakespeare, that "summer's lease hath all too short a date." (You can read that sonnet here.)
Last summer I played a lot with the metaphor of sun tea (Here's
a post I wrote last summer about sun tea, on a day when we were
planning a pizza party in the evening two couples; the post mentions
that one of the couples was about to have their first child, and sure
enough, she went into labor that day and we had to postpone the pizza party!). At the end of the summer I wrote the following poem. I'm not fully happy with it, really; I think maybe this idea wants to be an essay instead, and that it needs more work. But I love the thought of these little dried pieces of tea coming to me from all over the globe, and the sun making the tea for me without me having to light the stove. I love the word "alchemy" and the stories behind each of my glasses of iced tea. I love how even though the poem doesn't use the word "enough" or the word "Sabbath," it's full of both. And how even though it doesn't use the word "God," I know the source of those good and perfect gifts.
Sun Tea, Summer 2017
Fill the jar with clean water.
Put in the tea:
sometimes loose, to be strained later,
sometimes in a tea ball infuser,
sometimes a handful of tea bags.
Screw on the lid.
Go outside, barefoot or in flip flops,
and place the jar in its spot:
next to the crown of thorns in the pot,
out of reach of the dogs,
directly in the sun.
The sun is the key,
working its alchemy as the day advances,
as the tea and the fruit and the flowers
spread their essences into the water
and the mixture steeps,
This summer’s offerings:
Kyoto cherry rose
hot cinnamon sunset
country peach passion
Each one has a story:
the end of a birthday present from last year,
a gift from my husband’s student
(I made tea from this one day after day
until the whole box was gone),
my daughter’s choice,
a purchase during an outing with an old friend’s new wife.
Each one is filled with ingredients
carefully gathered from trees and bushes and fields,
dried in the sun in other latitudes,
combined and packed in boxes and bags.
Bring in the jar
when the mixture is dark enough:
golden brown, red, peachy.
Take out the leaves or the bags,
sweeten the tea to taste,
and put the jar in the fridge
to chill for a couple of hours.
Serve over ice.
Ruth, from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
You can read other people's reflections on this topic at Margaret's blog here.
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