In my hometown, Memorial Day signals the start of summer. This year, my mom and I went to the town cemetery to put flowers on our family members’ graves, and on Monday we gathered with the whole town at the courthouse for an Avenue of Flags dedicated to deceased veterans.
It’s a beautiful memorial and draws hundreds of people who come together to remember their loved ones. With over 1,000 U.S. flags whipping in the wind, a sea of people in lawn chairs listen to the reading of each veterans’ name and mourn with families who have come to dedicate the flags of those who died in the past year. It’s simple, solemn and celebratory.
Often this remembrance is the first time spent outside seeing friends and neighbors, experiencing the sun, the breeze, and the joy of summer.
What does the start of summer mean to you? At The Basilica, our parish community explores Personal Stewardship in June and July. I invite you to consider how you care for yourself in mind, body and spirit. Sometimes I find that friends and family concentrate and worry about everyone but themselves. Summer somehow gives us permission to take it a little easier...to go for a walk, smell the roses, or contemplate the feel of the sun after a very long winter.
The questions of how we care for ourselves and how we re-charge and re-energize probably have unique answers for each of us. For some it’s enjoying sweet fresh fruit and garden-grown vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Others head outdoors for biking, fishing, playing sports, or going for a swim at the lake. Many take summer vacations to break away from routines and the responsibilities of home, work, or both.
As you consider the importance of Personal Stewardship, I encourage you to remember the words of Saint Teresa of Avila—“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours....” She challenged us to live our faith and reminded us that it’s our job to do Christ’s work on earth. How can we possibly answer this call unless we first commit to take care of ourselves in mind, body and spirit?
There are many ways to embrace Personal Stewardship. Just commit to do one thing to renew and recharge yourself this summer. The key is actively, consciously making choices that contribute to your well-being. Consider the nice weather an opportunity to get outside for fun and exercise. Take a stroll through the neighborhood or around the lake. Play tennis or golf. Work in the garden. Go for a bike ride. Summer gives us so many possibilities to get moving and enjoy the outdoors. Or take advantage of the great fresh food offered at your local grocery store or neighborhood farmers market. As we move through summer, see what looks good at the farmers market and experiment with cooking up healthy and nutritious offerings.
Think about focusing on your prayer life. Worship with us weekly or visit The Basilica in the quiet of the day for contemplation and reflection. Consider Centering Prayer, a spiritual practice of quieting the mind and meditating in silence. It’s offered twice weekly on Wednesdays from 7:30 – 8:00am, and Fridays from 10:00 – 11:00am in the Bride’s Room located on the Basilica’s ground level. You’ll meet with a small group to discuss a book and then practice Centering Prayer for 20 minutes. Walk the labyrinth on The Basilica’s west lawn, or attend the Mental Health Blessing at all our June 27 and 28 liturgies.
Please explore Personal Stewardship in June and July and take time to consider the importance of caring for yourself in mind, body and spirit this summer. You’ll find lots of ideas at www.mary.org/personalstewardship.