Here are more spiritual practices for summertime bringing our total to 31 one for every day of July or August (though we have never said you had to use them that way). May you experience many blessings during this season.
22. SET UP A WONDER TABLE
Set up a "summer wonders table" on your porch or in a corner of a room. This is an especially good project for grandparents to do in anticipation of the arrival of little ones. Invite family members and guests alike to put items on the table that appeal to their senses a really smooth stone they found at the beach, something from the farmer's market with an unusual smell or taste, a glass with a beautiful tone when struck by a twig, a piece of cloth in a color that reminds you of summer, etc. At least once a week, gather at the table and share your wonders.
23. WALK AROUND THE LAKE
In one of his poems, Wallace Stevens observed: "Perhaps the truth depends upon a walk around the lake." Ponder that thought as you circumnavigate a lake, a pond, a field, or even your block. Just the experience of moving puts things in perspective and enables you to take in the big picture.
24. HOLD AN OPEN HOUSE FOR BIRDS
Hold an open house for birds in your backyard. Put up a bird feeder and a container of fresh water. See who shows up. Check a field guide or ask a local birder to help you identify your guests.
25. GO ON A PICNIC
Go on a picnic. As you lay out your spread, say "Thank You" to everything and everybody who contributed to your having this special meal the earth, the rain, the sun, the farmer, the market, the cook, even the cooking equipment. Be sure to include corn on the menu. Laurie Colwin explains in More Home Cooking: "That is the magic of corn, America's most emblematic food. It evokes memories of sunburn and rowing and swimming in the lake or wandering on the beach looking for shells. It is true soul food." Eating this special food, visualize all who have relished summertime corn with you.
26. SAVOR SUMMER SOUNDS
Summer has sounds of its own, whether the laughter of kids playing at the pool or the serenade of crickets at night. Lie on the ground for 15 minutes without saying anything. Pay attention to what your mind is doing. Then notice what you hear around you. This exercise helps you get better at two spiritual practices silence and listening.
27. FEEL THE HEAT
In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron, the Buddhist teacher, writes: "The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face. When we feel resentment because the room is too hot, we could meet the heat and feel its fieriness and its heaviness. When we feel resentment because the room is too cold, we could meet the cold and feel its iciness and its bite. When we want to complain about the rain, we could feel its wetness instead. When we worry because the wind is shaking our windows, we could meet the wind and hear its sound. Cutting our expectations for a cure is a gift we can give ourselves. There is no cure for hot and cold. They will go on forever." When the temperature goes through the roof and you feel oppressed by the heat, meet it and accept it as a regular part of summer. Being unruffled is a spiritual practice that will help carry you through hot days.
28. REVITALIZE WITH A FAN
Remember that even when you are at your lowest ebb in the humid days of summer, you can always fan your vitality to life again by standing in front of a fan or an air conditioner. As you are doing so, think about the people, experiences, or resources that also renew your spirit.
29. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Summer is an ideal time to pay attention to your body. You will have opportunities to soothe and comfort it through water and warmth and to develop it through exercise and extra rest. Listen to your body and see what it needs the most. As Marion Woodman has observed: "When the body is finally listened to, it becomes eloquent. It's like changing from a fiddle to a Stradivarius. It gets much more highly attuned." Retune your body this summer.
30. LOOK UP
The summer sky is spectacularly crowded with stars, and the warm nights make star-gazing a very attractive activity. Invite some other families to join you and have a moon-viewing party. Admire the beauty of the stars and the moon. Read poetry or share memories about the beauty of summer evenings. Then imagine how the moon and the stars see the world, an exercise that teaches connections and the unity of all Creation.
31. SAY BLESSING PRAYERS
Celtic Christians walked a "blessing path" and were keenly aware of "the long hand of God" in their lives. They said blessings over the signs of this presence. Make sure you utter many blessings for the gifts of God this summer --the sun, rain, flowers, grasses, breezes, special foods, birds, insects, animals, and many, many more.