Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Time to Reflect

A friend asked me the other day, "So, are you working this summer?" (the college professor's 9-month contract often inspires such questions)

I responded with my usual, "Well, I have an article I want to get together, a book review to write, and a presentation for a national meeting in November.  I also have some classes this fall that I haven't taught before.  Those syllabi will take some time to get together."

It is true, the summer is the time when professors are supposed to maintain whatever research agenda they can.  It provides the long stretches of uninterupted time that you don't have during the school year.  But one of the things I think I treasure most about the summer is the time to reflect.   Without the impending deadlines, committee meetings, student meetings, classes (all of which I do love or I wouldn't do this with my life), summer provides a moment to think.

It sounds kinda silly I guess.  We think all the time.  But I mean really THINK.  I am reminded of the wonderful, old Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethesemane who urged me to "Store up some silence while you visit, so you can write checks on it when your life gets busy."  Summer is a time to deposit some more silence into my account.

Life still provides noise, and some of it is good noise.  I am the summer "cruise director" for the boys.  But let me take a moment to say that I am convinced "Phineas and Ferb" have provided unrealistic expectations for what a summer should be!  But I love our trips to the museum or throwing the frisbee or just riding in the car. 

But thankfully, summer also provides that time to simply and think and reflect.  Evaluate what worked over the past year.  Evaluate what didn't and why. Maybe even write a blog or two. 

I am grateful to have a job where there are still "seasons." I can take this time of fallow and prepare for the planting.  My prayer is that everyone (no matter their profession), can find some time to store up some silence and take time to reflect.  Some may call it "boredom."  I call it Sabbath.