Summer Plans (with God)

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An article for the summer 2014 edition of The Message, All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church.

Everyone is talking about summer plans— trips to the beach, vacations, internships, camps, and special projects. In some cases, plans were made months or perhaps years ago. Time is set aside on the calendar, other opportunities are shifted, and money, time, and sweat go into following through with the plan. While I’m always interested in what people plan to do this summer, I’m especially interested in how we might plan with God this summer.

I invite you to PLAN this summer, to Pray, Learn, Act, and Nurture in some way, at least once a week, all summer long. In the fall, we can then reflect on our summer plans and see what God has been doing in our lives.

Pray: At All Souls, we offer Morning Prayer (which we refer to as Matins) Tuesday through Friday at 7:15 a.m. You could join us once a week, if it works with your schedule. Or, if you can’t join us but want to pray along, you could follow the lectionary readings in the All Souls Weekly, or follow online at missionstclare.com. You might pray with silence, music, journaling, or walking, but whatever way you decide to pray, make sure you do it at least once a week.

Learn: In addition to the reading you might do for fun or work, I invite you to read a little bit each week in the Bible, or in a new book about faith, theology, scripture, or some aspect of the Christian life. Check out the books at the Cathedral bookstore, a local bookstore, or online. If you haven’t read them, you might pick up Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, Anne Lamott’s Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, Joseph Martin’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage or Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark.

Act: Each week, do something nice or considerate for another person and try to do it secretly, anonymously, without being seen or caught. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel. This kind of thing helps us grow in humility, but it also moves us out of our own preoccupations and worries. Your act might be as simple as an unsigned note of encouragement, or a small gift of money or food. You might take on a volunteer opportunity. Whatever it is, be creative and do something you might not ordinarily do.

Nurture: Nurture can take many forms. It might mean trying to listen to a family member or coworker genuinely and openly, without judgment or critique. Nurture might mean giving financial assistance to a person, an organization, or an institution. It might mean dedicating more time to a specific person, a cause, or a project. Only you will know what you choose to nurture more, but do it at least once a week.

Depending on your personality, you might find it useful to think of this summer PLAN as a kind of “summer vow,” a summer pledge, or a summer hope. Whatever language you might use to frame the plan, I invite you to try it. See what God might do in your life and look for new blessings.

 

About John F. Beddingfield

Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City on East 88th Street between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave.
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