“A day’s work is a day’s work, neither more nor less, and the man [person] who does it needs a day’s sustenance, a night’s repose and due leisure, whether he be painter or ploughman.”
George Bernard Shaw
I’ve been on and off my computer quite a lot and it’s only just come to my attention that my last publication was back in May. While my bout of covid was mild by all standard metrics, it has still taken me some time to return to what my normal is. As our family closes out the school year with a graduation and my formal writing classes finish, I’ve taken on a few new things, both personal and professional. My third child is also joining the summer workforce and planning her junior year. My (draft) presentation for the Cursillo community went very well, and I have a focus for my book’s introduction. I have also been asked to teach a writing class for our local continuing ed program at our school district,
Prior to this and during my covid days I had trouble finding the inspiration to do more than what was essentially required of me. I had commitments that needed to be rescheduled, phone calls to make (and that list is still significant), but during all this busy time, where did I find inspiration?
The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The kids will be out of school soon. Things are winding down just as the world is winding back up. People are talking about the return of Broadway, In The Heights is in theatres, and I’m considering going…TO…A…THEATRE. (Practice for Black Widow, which I’ve been informed we WILL see in theatres in a few weeks.) Vacations are being planned, and we may actually see our cousins for Thanksgiving.
With all that taken into consideration, I decided to give myself a morning. Take a short drive and visit one of our local labyrinths. The temperature was a perfect seventy-six degrees.
The labyrinth itself is nestled in a quiet park on a quiet street in a sleepy Victorian former Methodist camp village. The roads are narrow and people drive a little too fast going from one end of town to the other. There is small parking area and the park is a field of grass with several trees that houses the birds and squirrels. It’s very Disney Princess-y.
My plan was to walk the labyrinth, pray parts of it, and sit on one of the benches for a few minutes in the quiet; give myself a little time and space before the summer heat makes that less possible.
When I arrived I could see from a distance that something was slightly different. Some of the rocks that form the labyrinth looked odd, larger, shinier; they really stood out from a distance. The closer I got, the more my eyes widened with surprise at what I found. Much of the labyrinth’s rocks had been replaced, repositioned, new soil beneath them, and some of the rocks making the path had been painted with a variety of things – a Scripture verse, a saying, a bumper sticker sounding Love Wins, all matter of animals and insects, Celtic knots, flowers, and symbols. One rock even had a photograph of two men attached to it. There was a pinwheel and new, bursting with color potted plants.
I walked through, marveling at the changes, at the brightness of the painted rocks, and I took several pictures. Once I reached the center of the labyrinth, I stepped out and spent ten minutes on the bench facing the labyrinth (even though my eyes were closed most of the time) letting myself attempt centering prayer with rocks for my mind’s focus.
There were still a few more left to rejuvenate and I look forward to returning in a couple of weeks to find what other surprises are in store.
It’s been a good day, and I may post about that in the delayed Inspire post later today or this weekend, but after my mental health break this morning, I returned to my favorite Starbucks, computer and backpack in tow, and they are open for seating (with appropriate social distancing), and I am thrilled.
I have set myself up at my favorite seat and am deliciously enjoying a breakfast sandwich and Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher.
Sometimes it’s the food that makes the Friday, and sometimes it’s the place that you’re enjoying the food.
In this case, it’s both.
We are slowing returning to pre-pandemic times, although I hope we’ve grown in the last year plus. Time will tell, but today maybe time can stand still for just a little longer.
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.
John Quincy Adams
This pandemic has taken, but for those of us continuing to live through it, it has also given. More time with our families. More time to think of our priorities, our spirituality, our blessings, and our failings.
As President Adams said above, this pandemic has brought patience and perseverance to all of us in varying degrees of success. We all have both despite having different levels of both, and through it all, in whatever way we are and we can, we are moving through it and adapting.
My daughter’s already got a list going for the summer activities she wants to complete. Most of it is based on past years and I’m sure some will coordinate with her Snapchat and soon to be Instagram, but that’s okay. She has a soon to be instagram, but that’s okay. She has a good eye. For now, she wants to be a fashion designer, but photography is good in almost any field; I use it for my writing.
Starting next week, school’s ot, but the learning goes on. Everything is a teachable moment, from organizing the clutter coming home from school lockers and desks to cooking and gardening.
Yesterday, I gave my two younger kids a homework assignment. Before June 21st, give me a list of five things you want to do this summer. Three of them must be free. Then add a sixth item with a suggestion of where you might want to take vacation this summer. No airplanes, car trip only, and this is not a guarantee of having a vacation.
Once I get their list, I’ll have them research their vacation item and create a budget.
In addition to that, we also will continue to have our Movie Day each week, two or three taste testings, art and journaling, bicycle rides, tending the yard, and a local history lesson.
What are some of the ways you’re still learning this summer?
For the past several summers, my kids have enjoyed taste testing. They’ve already asked about it this year, and school isn’t quite finished yet. I would go to the supermarket and pick out three to five new foods to try, usually exotic fruits that they didn’t typically get on a regular basis. I’d only get one of each and cut them into pieces for each of us to have a taste. If we really liked something, we’d go back to the store for more.
This is truly a great summer activity. Try new foods, offer healthy choices, add to our vocabulary, increase kitchen skills, and tick another day off the countdown back to school. At this age, the kids join me about halfway through wanting to return to their friends and schedules.
Not everything will go over well. My son desperately wanted anchovies. We ordered a pizza with two slices only with anchovies. The picture of his face is priceless and still makes me laugh. Just mentioning the word anchovy makes his whole face scrunch up. He did not like them at all.
Here is a list (below the cut) of some of the things we’ve tried, some we’re still thinking about fot this year, and suggestions for your own taste test day.
I think the picture sums up June neatly. As a family, we’re getting ready for the release of the kids for the summer, planning, praying, cajoling for kids to get along, not be bored, read, be creative, active, and so many other things not thought of yet.
I’ve always remembered this last month of school as hot and sticky. I’m freezing. I’ve been wearing long sleeves all weekend. Plus a sweater. I hate taking a shower on days like this. The water stays cold for so much longer. The heat is off, but I like sleeping with the windows open, so I’m cold all the time.
I want a nice bowl of soup.
It feels more like March or November.
My lilacs are gone.
School’s crescendo is building, adding more things to the end of year calendar. I’m not ready for summer recess. So much to do around the house. So many expectations of a good vacation with the kids home, but also the anticipation of too many people under one roof all of the time without respite.
There is no time in June, but I must take the time to take a breath.
Make a list.
Gather and locate supplies.
Fill out forms for summer school and VBS. Get in the end of school year paperwork. Red Hats, writing group that I’m in charge of, Gishwhes is coming, planning our trip.
Some of it will pass very slowly, but some will be very fast. Too fast.
When June ends, I will have no kids in elementary school. It’s kind of sad. I’m coping.