Enjoying these days

End of summer evenings are a treat for us. With daylight savings time still in effect, sundown doesn’t come until about 7:30, so the lighting and temperature has been perfect for sitting outside. When we don’t have evening meetings, we’ve been eating on the deck most evenings. With just two of us, it doesn’t take much charcoal to cook a nice supper. Last night we had some thin-cut chicken breasts and a few sweet potatoes on the grill. Lighting the charcoal and preparation took about 10 minutes and cooking time was about the same. In less than a half hour we had a feast. We were able to linger and talk outside and enjoy watching the deer in the yard. It truly is one of the treasures of living where we do.

Labor Day weekend marks the official end of summer, though the weather forecast is for summer-like temperatures through the next week. The air conditioning in the church may get a little workout before things get buttoned up for winter. The good weather may also give us an opportunity to catch up on a few chores that we didn’t accomplish over the summer.

Changing seasons are an invitation to take stock. We had a good summer and went on some amazing and wonderful adventures. But there were things I was sure I’d get done that are still unfinished. My ability to imagine the things I’ll do exceeds my ability to actually accomplish those chores. Perhaps it is a part of aging, though I’ve always set ambitious goals for myself and frequently had a few tasks that go undone.

Because of our travel, we decided not to put in a vegetable garden this year. That saved us the work of weeding and harvesting, but at the moment the garden is a mess of impressive weeds. I need to attend to those. I’ve also got an impressive mess going in the garage, which needs a thorough cleaning. I should be taking time to work at chores each evening, but the beauty of the evening and the comfort of lingering over dinner is a real lure.

Yesterday, as I was driving to town to catch up on a bit of work at the office, I was listening to the radio. There was someone interviewing people on the street in New York City about television programs, stars and other elements of pop culture. I thought to myself, “I’m glad no one is asking me those questions.” I didn’t know any of the things they were talking about. I always wonder how people find time to watch television. I know that other people work as hard and as long as I do. I know that their homes and yards need as much attention as mine. It isn’t that I have anything against television, it is just that sitting and watching doesn’t seem to fit into my lifestyle.

In conversation, I’ve found that some family and friends turn on the television and sit in front of it at the end of the day when they are tired. I suspect that I spend as much time sitting as they do. It is just that I prefer to watch the sunset from the deck to watching television. In the cold weather when it is dark outside, I prefer to read a book or check out the news on the internet.

There was a time when most people got their news from the television, but I much prefer the Internet. I can check things out on my own schedule without worrying about the programming schedules of the networks. We don’t have cable television, so, for the most part, I avoid the 24-7 news programming. When I do catch a bit of that kind of television, usually in a waiting room somewhere, I find it to be confusing. I’ll try to read the letters crawling across the bottom of the screen while the commentators are talking and pictures of something else are being flashed. Everything seems to be repeated over and over again and the sound is irritating. I couldn’t stand that for very long at all.

Outside on my deck, I can see people hurrying around. There is a fairly busy street in our backyard and folks tend to drive a bit fast, but our yard is on a corner that forces most to slow down and the coming and going of the deer also cause folks to be a bit cautious. Our house is set back from the road so our presence on our deck is largely unnoticed by those who are focusing their attention on their driving. We can just sit and watch the world go by.

The last long weekend of the summer usually results in slightly decreased attendance at worship. Families are taking advantage of the weekend to make short trips, go camping, and enjoy being outside. Youth sports are taking advantage of the school holiday to schedule tournaments and other activities. Still, I’m really looking forward to this morning. It will be our first communion service with the congregation since our travels, so it is a time to reconnect with the people we serve. Like other spiritual practices, the depth of meaning is reinforced by repetition. Part of the joy of the sacrament is that it is a “when we always” event. I know that repeated rituals can become stale and we can get stuck in ruts, but we work hard in our congregation to bring fresh language and music to worship and for me the practice never gets old.

These are days to savor and enjoy. There are plenty of things that need to be done and we anticipate the future with hope and with a bit of fear, but the present is a rich and wonderful time. When we simply allow ourselves to experience what is going on right her and right now we open the door to deep joy and celebration. How fortunate we are! How grateful we feel!

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!