Faith for the Summertime

Ah, summertime.  The season of warmth and outdoor activities.  It is a time for families to re-connect after months of school-driven schedules, a time for everyone to enjoy a different pace of life.  Barbeques.  Bike rides.  Gardening.  Afternoons at the beach.  It is good and refreshing to have this change of rhythm. 

It is Ordinary Time in the church calendar, which means we are not preparing for any big feast days or sacramental ceremonies.  For this reason it might seem tempting to sleep in on Sunday or to take the summer off’ from church attendance, but that would be like someone pressing the pause button in the middle of your favorite CD.  Not good.  What would be good is to refresh the tempo of our spiritual life, to linger after Mass to talk with friends, to start a prayer journal, or to take time each week to pray as a family.  The fact is that while the cadence of our faith lives may change with the seasons, the lyrics of our faith lives do not.  The lyrics of our faith lives are that of Jesus’ undying desire that we would come to know Him better.  It is His desire for all seasons and it should be ours, too.

I have a new CD that is helping me to hear these lyrics anew this summer.  On this CD, Christian singer-songwriter, Shauna Cassidy, sings a song about her desire to know Jesus better using some fresh images.  The song is titled “I Want to Know You” and the refrain goes like this: 

I want to know You, like the back of my hand.
I want to know You, like the ocean knows the sand.
I want to know You, like the sunlight knows the leaves.
I want to know You, Father, like You, You know me.

The lyrics are powerfully progressive images of how we need to allow our relationship with Jesus to deepen to the point of His life changing ours.  We can know the backs of our hands just by seeing them, like we can know where our churches are just by driving by and looking at them, but that kind of knowledge doesn’t really change us.

Miss Cassidy’s next image, that of the ocean knowing the sand, goes deeper.  This image is one of two things co-mingling: water mixing with sand grains and the two becoming the wonderful stuff of drip castles.  It is an image of togetherness where each affects the other, but the two remain distinct entities.  It could be compared to attending church instead of just driving by.  It is the next step toward knowing Jesus, but it is possible to sit, stand, and kneel at all the right times, and yet walk out of Mass basically unaffected by our hour in the pew.

When we reach the level of the ‘sunlight knowing the leaves,’ here is where true transformation happens.  The leaves are actually changed by the sunlight and, because of it, life is given to the tree!  The ‘sunlight knowing the leaves’ is an image of the Eucharist.  The sunlight knowing the leaves is the image of our knowing Jesus, not just by fulfilling our Sunday obligation, but by allowing what we hear proclaimed at Mass and the “sonlight” we are offered in the Body and Blood of Jesus to transform every fiber of our beings.

I am so grateful to be living near the ocean where images of sand and water, sunlight and leaves are all around.  They remind me to go deeper, to allow Jesus’ life to change mine even during Ordinary Time.  The end of Miss Cassidy’s song beautifully sums up the song of my heart for this summer, a song that I hope will become yours, too: 

I want to know You, like the Heavens know Your name.
I want to know You, more than I can explain.
I want to know You; You’re the lover of my soul, sweet Jesus, Jesus, please,
make me whole.  Make me whole.  Make me whole.

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