Father William Byron, S.J.

Let me suggest that here, in the midst of summer, the reader give some thought to summers past. Recall good summer memories. Everyone has them — being swept ashore with the surf, floating in an inner tube on a lake, splashing around in the pool, catching lightning bugs, chasing butterflies.

Memories of Fourth of July fireworks, band concerts, baseball games, amusement parks, bike rides, roasted marshmallows, hamburgers and hot dogs, thunder and lightning, reading on the porch, sailing, water skiing, summer jobs, hiking and just hanging out all come easily to mind if you close your eyes and look as well as listen.

We tend to remember more readily the summer fun we came up with ourselves as “something to do,” rather than the events that were organized for us. But we will always be grateful for those trips and family outings that we, in later life, take pains to provide for our children and grandchildren.

Some parents inevitably find themselves asking, “Is it worth the hassle?” as they deplete their supply of patience and exhaust their peacemaking skills during long automobile trips that are part of “the family vacation.”

Yes, it’s worth it. The happy memories remain with those kids throughout their lives. How often do you hear them say, “D’ya remember when we …? Yes, you certainly do, and so much of what comes to mind are good summer memories.

A midsummer recall of summers past sets the stage for a prayer of gratitude. I invite readers of this column to let themselves pray for a moment right now in words like these:

Thank you, Lord, for summers past and summers yet to come.
Thanks for all the fun — fun with a purpose, like those great days at camp,
and fun for nothing else but the fun of it — in the attic, the cellar, the playgrounds,
the farms, the meadows, and the woods.

Thanks for summer rest, romance, and reflection.
There were summer moments, Lord, when you came toward me,
“walking on the waters,” in a sense, as I felt your
presence in my life in summers past and caught a glimpse of your plan for me.

I’ve deviated from the plan, I know,
and I’m grateful for the midcourse corrections that
your providence provided for me from time to time.

Thank you also for the rains of summer, Lord, and
the growth-inducing summer sun
that produced the summer crops and flowers and all things fresh.

Thanks for summer nights and summer sounds.
For love songs and for everything that summer sings to me now
by way of grateful thought and happy memory.

If, as that wonderful old song reminds us, it is “summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” there is leisure time waiting to be filled with moments of spontaneous prayer. Star-filled night skies encourage it, as do wildflowers in the fields and waves rolling in on the shores.

The churches are open, of course, and welcoming of summer worshippers, but the summer itself is a setting waiting to be used for grateful prayer that sustains us in our journey of faith.

***

Jesuit Father Byron is university professor of business and society at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia. Email: wbyron@sju.edu. The prayer included in this column is excerpted from his book, “A Book of Quiet Prayer.”