I hope that these early days of July have been good to you and your loved ones. And, I hope that they will fold into summer weeks that allow you a measure of rest and relaxation that is difficult to achieve at other times of the year.
As I write, I look forward with pleasure to my own summer vacation. I do appreciate the opportunity and privilege it provides to step away from the demands of daily life, to think about the events of the past year and to anticipate the opportunities and challenges of the year to come.
I don’t mean to convey the impression that such thinking or anticipation constitute a heavy agenda. It’s not as though I rehash everything that happened in the previous months or that I fret and worry about what might happen in the future.
It’s more an openness to look at what rises in my conscious awareness during the quiet vacation moments. What’s to be learned from that experience? Has my attitude about it changed between the time it happened and the time I remember it? Does it connect with or shed light on other past experiences? Did the unfolding of the experience from beginning to end hold any surprises for me?
The particulars of such reflection obviously change from year to year. But, what emerges over time is an awareness that the Spirit of the Lord is always there, always faithful, ever teaching, always leading. And — with hindsight at least — my conviction grows in the fact that the Spirit’s presence is a sustaining grace even when I am at my worst.
In such moments of insight I think of my Episcopal motto: “God’s love endures forever.” When I chose that 27 years ago, I did so from several possibilities I had thought of or that were suggested to me by friends. “God’s love endures forever” was suggested by Jim Anderson, a seminarian from Houston, Texas, who was studying at the North American College where I worked.
Through the years, I have found Jim’s suggestion to be very helpful — even sustaining. In good times, it’s a wonderful reminder that God is the source of all that is good. In the more difficult moments, it keeps me aware that the Spirit of the Lord is guide, counselor and advocate for us; the Spirit prays in us and for us even when we lack the words to pray.
It’s that awareness that allows one to anticipate the future with joyful hope rather than with dread — no matter how foreboding the future may seem to us. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
You can be sure that you are very much in my prayers during vacation days. Some of my prayer is in thanksgiving for your strong faith and goodness to others. Some of it is for the intentions you carry in your heart for yourself and for your loved ones. Another piece of it is for your continued growth in the Lord and for your willingness to follow the Lord wherever God may lead. Gratitude for your personal kindness to me is woven through it all.
I’ll be writing next for the August 13th edition of the Catholic Courier. Until we meet again let me encourage you to find some quiet moments through the summer during which you are able in an intentional way to be especially attentive to the Lord’s presence to you in the up and down, happy and sad, just plain confusing reality of daily living. There is much that is life-giving and encouraging to be discovered in such attentiveness.
I ask for your prayers through these weeks and promise you my own.
Peace to all.