by Lisa DeRosa,
Father’s Day weekend growing up was celebrated by camping at the Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton. Military families like ours would set up tents and grills right there on the beach. My family brought everything including a portable kitchen sink. We were serious about this camping experience. Sizzling pancakes and bacon, excited screams of kids running away from waves crashing on the sandy shore, crackling wood in fire pits, and palm trees swaying in the breeze are sounds of summer for me.
What are your sounds of summer?
I grew up in the desert of Southern California. Summer temperatures would climb to 110 degrees F (or about 43 degrees C) or more if there was a heatwave. As someone prone to heat exhaustion, it was challenging to find ways to stay cool when the ambient air was so hot. My family started with a small, round plastic pool, then a little larger pool as we grew until eventually, my parents decided it was time for an above-ground pool. Our four-foot-deep pool was the saving grace of desert living. In the summer months, we spent hours caked in suntan lotion and gripping tightly to our pool floaties while Dad grilled dinner in our backyard. Chlorine from the pool, SPF 50 Coppertone suntan lotion, grilled meat and corn on the cob, and backyard pink jasmine flowers are the smells of summer to me.
What are your scents of summer?
Family picnics at the local park where we could get our energy out on the playground included homemade sandwiches, creamy potato salad, fresh-cut watermelon, juicy strawberries, and a tall pitcher of tart lemonade. Sometimes we would buy popsicles or ice cream bars from the ice cream truck that frequented the park.
What are your tastes of summer?
Sunlight peeking through my window around 5 am and staying brightly shining in the sky until 10 pm indicates summer for me. I wake up earlier with the sun and tend to stay up later too. This was a nice perk when I had summers off from school because it felt like I could maximize my summer vacation. During the day, the sky’s blue shades appear differently than during other seasons of the year. Maybe that is subjective, but I love summer blue skies. Times that I could stay awake long enough to see the stars come out, I enjoyed stargazing with friends in college because it is warm enough to be outside even after the sun went down. We found a secluded spot with minimal light pollution and would lay down in the truck bed away from the bugs on the ground.
What sights indicate that it is summer for you?
Laying out on a big, fluffy beach towel while reading a book with the sun’s warmth on my skin feels like the first sign of summer. The slippery feeling but also protection that suntan lotion provides is another tactile indicator of summer for me. I love feeling the grass and sand beneath my feet when I can walk barefoot. Since it is either too cold or too wet to walk barefoot in other seasons, summertime is the perfect opportunity to touch the earth as I walk.
What do you touch or feel that tells you it’s summer?
I never thought about these summer senses as a spiritual experience. As a kid, I enjoyed all the fun, family times that summer brought. But in reflecting now as an adult, and after hearing Christine and Lilly share about symbols of summer during the Making Time for a Sacred Summer Retreat (which is now an online course!), I realize that these are gifts from God! Using my senses to take me back to these memories elicits gratitude and thankfulness to God. They are ways to connect with the Divine through the season and are even opportunities to pray for myself and others in the world! Lilly shared an incredible prayer exercise of putting on sunglasses and praying that we would have eyes to see the world as God does as we wear our sunglasses throughout the summer. What other items could we use for this type of spiritual practice? Take time to ask God to speak through your symbols of summer.
I put together this collage after thinking about my symbols of summer. I was surprised that the very few magazines I have would provide this many relevant pictures and phrases for my collage.
How can using your senses this summer help you connect with God? Can your symbols of summer invite a deeper sense of the immense love and care that God has for you? How? We would love to hear your responses if you would share them with us!
Want to learn more about summer practices and connecting with God through summer symbols and experiences? Check out Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin’s Making Time for a Sacred Summer Online Retreat. This course allows you 180 days of access for only $24.99!
Thank you Ivan Torres for the tent photo from unsplash.com. Collage photo by Lisa DeRosa.