‘Summer’ is a season given bounds as much by schooling, work, and vacation as by the earth’s relation to the sun. Though we have another month until the autumnal equinox, most of us experience summer as ‘done’ by around mid-August. I think it reasonable that we accept this and ask how we might ‘go with it’ and make the most of it.

“Zeus has a design for each occasion, and mortals find this hard to comprehend.” Hesiod, Works and Days

Hesiod thought there is a divine plan in seasonal changes, though not easy to grasp and to live out. Ecclesiastes sounds a similar note:

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

I think that the end of summer is, at least for many, the most challenging transition in the year. In any case it calls for intentionality, and often a bit of steeling ourselves or girding up for what is to come.

This transition varies between households. Some will experience it more dramatically in the ‘going away’ of children or the starting again of study or work. Yet really all of us will feel the end of vacation and the ‘off’ season, and the recommencing of a wide range of activities, clubs, civic groups, sports, etc.

I for one tend to struggle a bit this time of year. While I know it’s time to ‘move on,’ there are things it’s hard to leave behind and other things hard to face. Nonetheless, or perhaps precisely because of this difficulty, we are afforded an opportunity that comes with any seasonal or other life change: to look back and to look ahead.

The most important aspect of any looking back is gratitude. A number of aspects of the summer past will immediately evince a sense of gratitude. For other aspects I will have to try to find gratitude. ‘Finding gratitude:’ here is one of the main areas I need to grow; and times of transition are the perfect occasion to make the effort. Rather than only savoring the good times of this summer, I can try to discover a deeper truth—the goodness and the gift in those other summer happenings.

Looking ahead calls for courage and hope, as well as discernment. For many of us, this is as much a time for new resolutions as the New Year. Autumn is a naturally a season of work, following the dog days of summer and leading into the slow-down of winter. How can I improve my daily schedule to accommodate truly good work and truly restful leisure? Work, leisure, and the relationships forged in them are always the real stuff of life.

Summer called for certain things, and now we are moving on. “What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

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