Ah, summer. The sun, the poolside, pale ales, the crushing weight of existential loneliness…
Yeah, not to be a downer, but summer isn’t all Australian Gold and beach volleyball for everyone. For many it’s actually a season of intense loneliness and isolation. All your friends are on vacation for weeks at a time, there’s nothing to do; and if you have kids, adjusting to having them home 24/7 is driving you crazy. Don’t even get us started on the pressure to craft and maintain a “beach body” before May hits, even if you live nowhere remotely close to a coastline. Enduring relentless sunshiny weather when you feel more like a human rain cloud of ickiness is the worst, especially if everyone thinks you’re crazy for counting down the days til the literal autumn equinox. If you cringe whenever the calendar turns the corner from April to May, this post is for you. We’re gonna get through this together, I promise.
Step 1: Get Thee To Adoration
Jesus gets lonely too, y’know. Worst case scenario, you go to adoration and you and the King of the Universe just sit there miserable and lonely together. What better company? I mean, His friends totally abandoned Him out of sheer terror and shame. At least yours plan on coming back from that condo in Panama City in a few weeks. Perspective! Best case scenario? You go, receive a bajillion consolations, and know that your Creator makes Himself impossibly small and humble just to be present to you, His unrepeatable and beautiful creation. Win-win.
Step 2: Your Summer Reading Is Now Everything Related To Theology of the Body
Here’s the secret to getting that beach body you see everyone talking about. Step one, have a body. Step two, take it to the beach (or the pool. Or the sprinkler on the lawn). Congrats! You now have a beach body!
Still not convinced? Then head over to EWTN and stuff your heat-addled brain with Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body lectures for a free jolt of body positivity, Catholic style. It’s like a boot camp workout for your soul. Start now and by the middle of summer, you’ll be confidently telling impossible cultural standards of attractiveness to shove it–with all charity and humility, of course.
Step 3: Beat the Heat (Of the Passions) With Daily Mass and the Liturgical Calendar
Yes, I know it’s hot. Yes, I know dragging yourself off the couch and away from your Buffy marathon is the last thing you want to do right now. But the best way to break any seasonal malaise is to just get up and go—anywhere. No matter how much you want to just live in your yoga pants forever and ever and never see another human being. And where better to go than Heaven on earth itself? Heck, it’s probably has better air conditioning than your house. Aaaand the Eucharist will put a damper on those icky passions in your soul that are only going to make your summertime blues that much worse.
Still can’t stand the season? No big deal, just restructure the whole way you see and experience time. Break out of the hum-drum, four-season grind and get in rhythm with the liturgical calendar, if you aren’t already. Summer is an excellent time to do so–it’s overflowing with important feast and saint days like the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Transfiguration, and the Assumption. Living the seasons of the Church sanctifies time and ushers us deeper into the presence of God that engulfs us every day, whether we know it or not. Don’t just recognize or passively give consent to the feasts of the Church–celebrate. Go to Mass. Display an icon or other image of the feast prominently in your home and make it festive–be creative! Break open the good wine or spring for the good beer, in the name of Christ. Get at it.
Step 4: Give Back
Chances are, if you’re not in the tourist industry or taking summer classes, you’ve got some extra time on your hands. Too much time—that’s part of the problem. Why not make the most of it by giving it back? Teach a catechism class. Become a Eucharistic minister. Look into the chaplain program at your local hospital. Explore other ministries at your parish that interest you. You might even make new friends in the process!
Step 5: Hang Out With Brother Sun and Sister Moon
There’s no better spark for self-transcendence quite like the beauty of nature, and in summer it’s on full display. Look up your local state or national parks and take yourself on a solo outdoor date. If you live near the beach, have a beach day all to yourself (more coconut water and snacks for you!). Prayerfully consider and contemplate the season in light of both the liturgical calendar and God’s overflowing goodness. How does the natural world reflect the liturgical season and vice versa? What does Creation have to say about God during this season? How can Creation minister to you? Give God thanks for all the blessings of Creation particular to this time of year–even if you have to look hard to do it.
Summer can really suck, but it doesn’t have to. Follow these steps to lead you out of your sun-baked malaise, and September will be here before you know it.
Real talk, though, if your summertime blues move from “ugh” to “non-functioning,” seek help from a healthcare professional, your priest, or someone you trust. You could be experiencing Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of seasonal depression triggered by the onset of summer. It’s okay to feel miserable when everyone else is having fun, but you don’t have to stay that way. Seek help ASAP and get back to doing the things you love—even if it’s binge-watching Friends while everyone else roasts outside.
[republished with permission from CatholicExchange.com]