Start of Summer 2020: Can we Salvage our Summer?


Can we save summer 2020? That’s the title of an opinion piece in the May 16 edition of The Globe and Mail. Erin Anderssen looks at the question that is being asked by most of us – kids, parents, cottagers, those whose livelihood depends on summer activities, and just about every person in the country.

We are Canadian after all, and we desperately need the few months of summer. What will this summer bring us? Normally, starting with the Victoria Day long weekend, many of us would have been shifting into our summer mode.

Depending upon where we live in the country, many, if not most, aspects of life will look different this year. Things keep shifting, but it is likely that we’ll have bans on large group gatherings, two-week quarantine rules for new arrivals and physical distancing rules for a while.

Treks to other parts of the country likely will not happen. We are already witnessing locals in cottage country and popular tourist destinations urging visitors to stay away.

Anderssen says that, cottage time and camping may seem like frivolous worries relative to the tragedy that COVID-19 has wrought. But the mental-health pangs of this pandemic are also real – and rising, according to national surveys.

She reminds us that summer vacation is about more than getting to a cottage: It’s the chance to go home, see aging parents and new babies, continue family traditions with the next generation and connect with one’s roots.

Her conclusion is that this year, for many Canadians, saving summer will mean savouring the essence of the season, wherever they are.

Summer 2020 starts on Saturday, June 20. How can we savour the gifts of summer, while being cautious and prudent? My hunch is that this will mean embracing simple activities that remind us of all that summer brings.

Obviously we won’t be gathering at huge outdoor festivals or sporting events. But there is no reason why we cannot enjoy bike rides, long evenings by the fire, indoor recreation (jigsaws and board games) on rainy days, lazy afternoons with a novel in a shady spot, a camping trip in the back yard, and so on.

Can summer continue to work its magic and rejuvenate us, to help us move on from last winter and the reality of a global pandemic hitting us as that season came to an end?

I’ve always liked a quote from the novelist Henry James: Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. The summer of 2020 will be a test for us. Can this summer maintain that beauty?

I think that many of us will find contentment with those afternoons. Of course, many of us need more stimulation and crowds and excitement.

I’m rejoicing that summer is here. I’m content to sit outside for a few minutes and let my pale body be exposed to the sun and a warm breeze. I’m grateful that I can wear shorts and a t-shirt. I love looking at green grass and colourful flowers and trees that have leaves moving to a gentle, warm breeze.

I enjoy a summer rainfall. I even enjoy a torrential downpour in warm weather. Summer thunderstorms and lightning have an incredible beauty. It’s a treat to walk along a lakeshore and wear slight clothing, as opposed to a heavy down-filled parka.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to remove heavy, snow-filled boots when I come to the front door of a friend’s house. Simple things easily impress me! Can those simple things sustain me in the pared-down summer of 2020? Can those simple things sustain you?

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Bernice Dookhan-Khan
    Posted at 01:29h, 20 June Reply

    Thanks for sharing Fr. Shano. I am content with whatever God has placed before me this 2020 summer. As I enjoy my beautiful peonies of mixed colours, I continue to be amazed with beauty of nature…
    All I ask for is the grace to always do God’s will in all things.

  • John Montague
    Posted at 07:40h, 20 June Reply

    Love your quote by Henry James; summer afternoons indeed.

  • Peter Bisson SJ
    Posted at 08:47h, 20 June Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • Grace Colella
    Posted at 13:38h, 20 June Reply

    Thank you for writing about the simplicity of summer. I enjoyed reading about it.

  • Esther Grace
    Posted at 13:45h, 20 June Reply

    very thoughtful

  • Michelle Kotak
    Posted at 16:17h, 20 June Reply

    Beautiful reflection. A reminder that a summer afternoon lived simply can bring so much needed rest and peace. Perhaps this is exactly what we all need to bring our lives into equilibrium.
    Thank you so much…I appreciate and benefit so much from your writings.

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