The Summer of 2021


I recently sat inside a Starbucks, enjoying my latte. Sixteen months ago, that seemed like an everyday experience, one that I never treated as extraordinary. In this time of COVID, it now feels like a luxury. Unless there are further lockdowns, I no longer have to pick something up and take it out.

As you know, if you have followed my posts over the years, many of my contributions were composed in the creative space of a coffee shop – the sights, the sounds, the aromas, the conversations, bustling activity. I can now look forward to times sitting my iPad inside the store. Freedom!

What a summer! Freedom! Increasing numbers of the vaccinated. Worship spaces have a new freedom. We can sit in restaurants and cafes. Borders are opening. In-person shopping is possible. Sporting events are no longer forbidden. Tourist destinations are opening. We can travel more easily than in well over a year. We can more freely spend time with family and friends. We can hug and kiss.

There is more freedom than many of us have experienced since the COVID pandemic took control of our lives. Our new Governor General is an Indigenous woman. And so forth. There is plenty to celebrate in this summer of 2021.

But we know that many of our conversations are heavy – remembering  those who have suffered and possibly died from COVID, fears of the variants, family funerals and visits deferred, the very difficult news of the residential schools and the discoveries we have heard about, anti-Roman Catholic Church sentiments, wildfires and their devastation (sometimes deadly), heat waves and floods and the escalating effects of climate change in many areas of the globe, increasing numbers of statues being toppled during this time of cancel culture, the on-again and off-again Olympic Games in Tokyo, and so on.

It is certainly true as well that each one of us has their own issues to speak of. Consolations and desolations. Joys and sorrows. This summer of 2021 has had its share of ups and downs., consolations and desolations, pains and hopes.

Major world events such as the pandemic make it more urgent that we be a people of thankfulness. There were many times during this year when we realized the importance of not taking for granted the people and possibilities in our life, even something ordinary. We tried to remind ourselves about how important it is to not just return to normal, to start looking at the new possibilities beyond the pandemic.

What are you grateful for as we move toward the end of summer? How did you spend it and what were the highlights? How have you celebrated your newfound post-pandemic freedom? What will get stored in your memory bank for the summer of 2021? However you respond, enjoy these final days of summer.

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.

  • Dee Sproule
    Posted at 08:04h, 31 August Reply

    In fact, there are many who are grateful to and for you, Philip. Thank you for your words!

  • Karen Arthurs
    Posted at 09:50h, 31 August Reply

    The summer of 2021 is a bit like emerging from Plato’s cave, still many shadows, as I reflect on the word ‘freedom’.

  • Pauline Mary Theresa Lally
    Posted at 10:48h, 31 August Reply

    Great questions that I shall journal today on the last day of August. Thank you.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 12:08h, 31 August Reply

    So happy that you are able to return to your corner in Starbucks…..among real people and drinking from their REUSABLE cups!! Enjoy!!

  • Caroline Maloney
    Posted at 03:32h, 01 September Reply

    In Alberta, moving more freely, and especially visiting with friends WITHOUT face masks so we can hear each other speak, is the biggest treat for me! Yet some people, understandably, because of the new variant are still wearing face masks. So “it ain’t over till it’s over”….we are all still on high alert, with the uncertainty!

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 01:59h, 06 September Reply

    Thank you Philip!

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