Our students here at HCA anticipate the arrival of summer with a mix of excitement, relief, and even sheer giddiness. It is the reward for a job well done, a prize earned through effort. And it has always been that way. In history and literature, summer’s life and light and warmth has been celebrated and revered. Shakespeare compared the beauty of a loved one to a summer’s day, Carl Sandburg implored the moon of summer to “shine on,” Billy Collins idealized fishing on river in July, and Walt Whitman called the bees around a hive on a summer afternoon a “miracle.” Summer is a time to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.
Summer is an opportunity. The Greek poet Hesiod said, “It will not always be summer - build barns.” Summer is a time to prepare for the fall and winter, to glean from the ground what is good and store it for future use. For students at HCA, it is an opportunity to look forward and build a foundation for the next school year.
That starts with REST. Everyone needs rest, and summer’s slower pace of life can allow students to recharge their batteries. They should sleep in a little, recalibrate their batteries, and slow down. They should enjoy the beach, and fishing, and playing outdoors, and picnics, and all of the other joys of long summer days full of light and warmth.
With that rest should come REFLECTION. The fortieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah says, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (29-31). At school, our students participate in Christian community every day, but the summer gives them a special time apart to develop their personal relationship with God. Time normally spent in class and doing homework can now be spent getting to know God better, allowing time and hopefully a little silence to feed the soul. And of course, the beauty of the summer and the nature that is around us is a constant reflection of the gifts God has given us.
And finally, summer is a time for RELATIONSHIPS, in particular, the family relationship. Summer vacations make memories, provide cultural experiences, and demonstrate an intentionality of the family unit. Family is our core, it is the safety net of our students, and it is where they learn the most about unconditional love, such an important lesson as they strive to be servant leaders in all that they do.
It may seem counterintuitive, but rest, reflection and relationships are a way of “building barns” for the winters of life. They are stores of peace and love that can be drawn upon all year. In addition, every HCA student should do that building work with their intellect, place the cornerstone of what will be their year academically. Students should be encouraged to read and to write, to do math or puzzles or games. If old enough, students should read and process the news and begin to apply critical thinking skills. Older students should set goals, and that may involve test preparation or visiting colleges and universities.
The writer Albert Camus said, “in the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” How wonderful would it be for our students to feel and know their invincibility throughout the upcoming year? To save that joy and light and warmth, to have prepared emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually for what is to come so that in them is an “invincible summer” of faith, of family, and of focus? My prayer for each of our students is that it may be so.