Summer days and years

The grass we tried to plant last fall has finally sprouted, and what was rough and muddy is now a carpet of green. The buds have all turned into leaves, and the birds have been singing out in force. For all intents and purposes, summer is here. And while the school year dribbles into its last few weeks, it seems that everyone is beginning to breathe the collective sigh of relief that comes from knowing that the days are getting warmer; that blankets can be folded away in linen closets; and that the full-press schedule is about to wane, at least a bit.

When I think about it, “summer” is probably where our family is in life right now. We’ve passed the springtime of pregnancies and childbirths. It seems our team roster is full. We’ve moved beyond our need of cribs and car seats, strollers or afternoon naps. (OK, I still need the nap sometimes!) The kids are capable of doing a great deal for themselves, and are often willing to do something for someone else. And there is nobody left in our house who can’t be told to read a book when he or she complains about having nothing to do.

As a family, we are running and playing and basking in the warmth and goodness of it all. Our lives are full of activity and intersecting schedules. While someone is almost always coming or going, we still eat dinner together pretty much every day. I think in some ways, we are not only in the thick of our lives, but in the prime of them. Our oldest has begun a family of her own. The second will be graduating from college next week. Our third will be applying to universities in the fall.

But in the midst of all that is happening in the present tense, 2008 holds three significant Silver Jubilee’s for us. Twenty-five years ago I became a Roman Catholic, Andrew and I both graduated from college, and we were married. I have to laugh when I think about how hard it has been to actually observe or celebrate these milestones. I couldn’t return to St. Paul’s in Cambridge for Easter Vigil Mass because I was directing the choir at our parish Easter Vigil. Hey, who needs nostalgia when the choice to become Catholic has blossomed into a life of lay ministry? Then, we couldn’t go to the cathedral for the Silver and Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass because it conflicted with one of our daughter’s confirmation. But who needs a special Mass to celebrate a sacrament we are living every day, when one of the children our marriage made possible is about receive a new sacrament of God’s grace? Lastly, we discovered that we can’t attend our big 25th college reunion even though it’s only 20 minutes from home. Why? Because our daughter’s college graduation is an 11-hour drive away on the very same day. But who needs to spend hundreds of dollars to “reconnect” with people we may not have even known in college, and reminisce about the past when one of our kids is preparing to embark on her future?

The bottom line is that we don’t need to do much to remember the acorn when we’re standing in the shade of the oak. Sure, it’s a good thing now and then to look back, to observe, and to celebrate. But every day we harvest the fruit of the seeds we’ve planted, both good and bad. Each day is just a further unfolding of all the days that preceded it. Today is the culmination of every yesterday, just as summer is the full flowering of what awakens in the spring. And the God who gives us every good gift, is with us in every season of our lives. Ultimately, he plants, he tends, and he harvests. May we always look to him with hearts that trust and do not fear.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an author, speaker, musician and serves as faith formation coordinator at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.