Summer is here and I’ve noticed the longer days, the warmer weather and the school holidays bring a presentness and a willingness to slow down and savour – businessmen and women crowd beer gardens and terraces after work, children squeal in the splash pads in parks, picnic produce and “outdoor living” line the aisles in shops, and employees actually leave the office in their lunch break to enjoy the sunshine.
In these periods of slowness, I become more alive to life and beauty, having a more intense sense of the “realness” of things. I live slowly enough to notice the daily wonders that I seem to ignore the rest of the year when I’m busy in the frantic pursuit of living.
CS Lewis talks about our tendency not to notice the beauty around us in his book The Aboliton of Man:
“You can’t go on “seeing through” things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to “see through” first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.”
In the summertime, I find that I stop “seeing through” things and live slowly enough to notice and enjoy them – the sharpness of balsamic vinegar on a cold tomato salad, the sound of my husband soothing our little one, the ridiculous scruff our dog looks when his nose is covered in sticky grass balls from exploring in the bushes. And when I stop to appreciate the blueness of the sky, or the warmth of the sun on my face, or the pleasure my friend’s girls take picking flowers in the garden, my natural response is to marvel and savour and thank God, telling Him how great He is.
The Westminster Confessional is a list of questions and answers explaining the Christian faith and the very first question and answer on the confessional is this:
Q1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Enjoying God is the sole purpose that we were created for – it’s not just a behaviour that we choose to do sometimes, it’s the sole purpose of our life. I think glorifying God and enjoying Him are intrinsically linked. When we enjoy God and delight in His goodness and creativity, when we seek happiness and satisfaction in Him, we display His glory. When we take the time to enjoy Him, it makes Him look immensely valuable and precious. I’ve heard it said that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
I don’t want to take life and breath and health and friends for granted. All these things are free and undeserved gifts from God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” And so this summer, in our waking and sleeping and eating and living, that’s my prayer for each of us.