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Summer is beginning in New York City. In my world, in Manhattan, I see parishioners traveling to their beach homes in the Hamptons, Connecticut, or their forested destinations in Upstate New York. The prayers from our homeless community begin to change to something like this, “God, protect us from the heat. Provide us relief when there is no shade to hide under.” They tell me that the heat of the summer is sometimes worse than the cold of the winter. The New York City Public Schools are winding down in the next week. Kids who are in prep schools have been out for a couple weeks and have already begun to pack for their summer camps. When I was in Michigan, summer camp meant a week away from home. In New York City it is common for kids to go to camp for four to seven weeks at a time. The heat has begun to creep into the City, but not like August. August can be unbearable here. Outdoor concerts in Central Park, and Prospect Park, have begun. I live in Washington Heights so in my barrio the streets are peppered with Dominican vendors selling flavored ice, mangos on a stick, and the sounds of bachata dancing from apartment buildings.
June and July are my busier months. I lead a church retreat at the Warwick Retreat Center that we just got back from. City folk breathing in the countryside, and glory of the night stars, is holy in and of itself. It’s Pride week in NYC and the Collegiate Churches participate in many activities. Tonight I’m leading a Pub Theology on the spirituality of the resistance of Stonewall to Queer theology. Then we turn the corner and it’s July. July begins a month of “solo pastoring” for me as my colleague is on vacation. Each week my colleague and I lead worship together, but starting in July it is just me preaching and leading. I find these weeks to be an incredible time of growth in my homiletics and ministry leadership. Come the second week of August I am quite ready for my vacation which I then take the rest of the month off and gear up to come back the first week of September.
While my work load becomes weightier, I will ensure that I have plenty of enjoyable summer experiences. I am most looking forward to my stack of summer reads. One reader of The 12 emailed me and suggested I read “Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Creech after reading my post on my travels to New Mexico this winter. That is now part of my summer reads and I appreciate the email from one of our readers! I am also looking forward to the newest summer music which for me includes Sam Smith, Mariah Carey, Phox, Lana Del Ray, and any new dance remix of some classics (I have a thing for Whitney Houston and can’t get enough of her old jams). I have gotten into the habit of seeing a french film every couple of weeks at one of our various theatres and hope to continue that this summer. Just last week I saw Violette which is about Violette Ludoc and Simone de Beauvoir’s writing relationship and the quest for freedom.
This post isn’t overly theological, but it accurately represents the feelings of contentment and joy of being alive that I feel. In Brian McLaren’s new book he says, “We want to be alive. To feel alive. Not just to exist but to thrive, to live our life, walk tall, breath free. We want to be less lonely, less exhausted, less conflicted or afraid. . . more awake, more grateful, more energized and purposeful.” I feel that today. I look out the window and see the glory of the Hudson River staring back at me and feel the magic of New York City. Peter Mayer sings “everything is holy now.” Yes, I see the Holy everywhere and today’s post is dedicated to the celebration of life and I am filled with gratitude.
What is on your summer list? What books are you hoping to read? Any music, or movies, you are hoping to enjoy?
Thank you for your unique and moving look at the coming of the summer season. I really like the music you post, too.