From Rabbi Johanna Hershenson
When I first moved to Bend, people told me one cannot count on summer being summer until after July 4th. July has taken hold and so has summertime.
What is it about the summer that excites us so? School's out! The sun feels so good. Fewer hours at work. More hours in the day.
In Bend, it's tourist season. Thousands of people pass through our town on their vacation. We see their holiday grins, stressless shoulders. Floating the river. Savoring their way through our eateries and breweries. Shopping our local businesses. Frolicking in our many festivals and outdoor concerts.
Musician, Michael Franti, is part of the Bend landscape each summer: inviting Bendites to practice yoga together or take a bike ride together before wowing us with his happy-go-lucky, feel-good tunes.
Lately, one of his songs has been running through my head. Summertime is always on my mind. Even in the winter I want the sunshine...Yes I believe what I believe and I believe that summertime is in our hands.
I think summer brings up our playful inner selves. Cold water makes us squeal, no matter what our age. Ice cream and popsicles are fun to eat. Period. Pickle ball or paddle board. Summer is about play.
When I moved to Alaska to serve a congregation in Anchorage, the president gave me one piece of advice for adjusting to winter there. He told me to go outside and play for at least one hour each day. Cross country ski. Snowshoe. Jog. Walk.
I discovered, following his advice, that when you associate good feelings, i.e., playfulness, to winter, and stop trying to avoid the elements, it becomes at best fun, and at least not all that bad.
Summertime is a season, but it can also be a state of mind. Playfulness and laughter connect us to joy.
One of my favorite places I've visited in the world is a Buddhist garden in Auckland, New Zealand. Throughout the gorgeously, contemplatively manicured garden are statues of fat little boys in monk's robes being silly. As you encounter them you can't help but smile. The whole effort of the monks there is to give guests a taste of pure, unadulterated joy.
As we head out for summer play, let's keep in mind how good it feels. Let's be a little silly and imagine what it would feel like to bring that little bit of silliness into other seasons of the year.
Summertime can be always on our minds...summertime is in our hands!