By Carolyn Kolovitz
It is the week of Summer Solstice, and during these long days of the summer sun I am celebrating joining Loyola and its wonderful team of spiritual directors. I’m thrilled to be working here and I’m bringing this joy with me into my summer fun activities. The Creator speaks to us through the seasons, and for me the Summer Solstice is about fully experiencing the present moment of the summer sun, without drifting into the anxiety of knowing that we are actually leaving it behind and starting our journey into the darkness. This summer, my circumstances make it a little easier to celebrate the present and to enjoy feeling fully alive and connected to the rhythm of life.
There have certainly been summers however, when I didn’t have anything to celebrate. Difficult summers when a close family member’s struggle filled my days with doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and constant worry. I felt out of sync with all the sunshiny people enjoying the warmth and late evening sunsets, and I dreaded the winter all the more knowing that summer was passing me by.
During one summer of despair, I knew I had to dig deeper to find ways of connecting to the moment, and that is how I discovered what is now a favorite summer hangout – the outdoor community pool! I had taken my daughter there when she was little, but then when she became too cool for the pool, I got the urge to go alone one difficult day after work. I entered the deep end and then danced my own water ballet while kids splashed and screamed all around me and the sun beat down on my face. Something about the weightlessness of my body as I treaded and stretched as well as the otherworldly feeling when I swam beneath the surface made me feel especially connected to the moment and to my body, my spirit, my neighbors and my Creator. Going to the pool regularly became a part of my yearly summer rhythm. I let myself melt into the community waters and become one with all that is.
I know water ballet is not for everyone, ha! As a spiritual director, I provide a space for seekers to uncover their own unique ways of feeling connected to their spirit, their neighbors, and their Creator.
I also encourage everyone with young people in their lives to guide them in finding their ways of feeling connected and to point out for them the spiritual metaphors all around us: How is living in community like swimming in a community pool? And for the deeper thinkers: How is love like the sun – both in the season of increasing light and in the season of increasing darkness?
There is much wisdom to be gained by paying attention to seasonal rhythms. So often we become mired in the challenges and drudgery of life, but a new season can jolt us out of the tunnel of despair and remind us to look up, breath into the moment and appreciate what we have until it fades away.