Some Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations take a break from meeting during the summer. People have asked me, “How can you take a break from your spirituality?” Others remark that this is the best idea they’ve ever heard. The Chequamegon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship meets once per month during the summer, and while I can see benefits for meeting more often, I believe that, at least for now, it’s the right thing to do from a spiritual perspective.
In northern Wisconsin, summer is the season of gardening and gathering. The abundance of the season is not held indoors but in community with one another around a fire ring, with family at a lake or BBQ, or in the garden for all those who grow and put up their sustenance. How is this spiritual? There are many teachings, including from Indigenous cultures and trauma theology, that we come into this world free and full of light and love. Yet life has a way of adding stones and gravel that we carry. It makes us less free under its load. The light becomes obscured and connecting with others and with love becomes difficult. How do we get rid of the stones? Jumping into a lake or fishing in a river will sweep some away. Stay out under the stars or go out in the morning to listen to birds, and a few stones will drop without you even noticing. By making music or art with the stones, they become something else. Laughing with family or sharing time with friends means that they can carry some of the stones for you, or help you find a place to set them down. Awe, wonder, creativity and connection are all ways to keep the stones from overwhelming life’s journey as, I believe, are prayer and worship. I think it is best when we have both. Yet for some, missing church on a Sunday creates guilt or shame. Not having summer services each week frees people of feeling guilty so they can focus on the season of abundance and the gifts it offers us.