In Part 1 of What Not to Do This Summer, I suggested that the four hindrances to the virtue of diligence paralleled, strangely enough, things to avoid in order to have a joy-filled summer! St. Francis de Sales taught us in Part 1 to not be preoccupied, to spend this summer being present with the ones we love. Here’s step two to having a saint-inspired summer.
“Beware of [haste], for it is a deadly enemy of true devotion; and anything done with precipitation is never done well. Let us go slowly, for if we do but keep advancing we shall thus go far.” – St. Francis de Sales
Don’t Be Hasty
Several years ago, we bought the cabin that has been in my family for over 75 years. My grandparents first bought it when it was just a one-bedroom cottage with no running water: they had to send some of their fourteen children up the hill to the communal spigot to fill buckets of water for drinking and washing up. When we took possession of the cottage, it had already grown in size and amenities; it now has two more bedrooms and a bathroom (thankfully) and, as of last year, even has hot water! While it’s still just a humble little cabin (there’s no shower, limited electricity, and the biggest challenge is keeping the porcupines out of the crawl space and the raccoons out of attic), the best part about it is the location: it’s a quick half hour drive from our house to our little cottage at the lake.
Summer is lake season for our province in the middle of Canada. Winters are brutal and long, so when July arrives with its warm, sun-drenched days, we are determined to make the most of it, spending as much time camping or at the cabin of family or friends as we possibly can. Some of us drive hours to spend the summer or a few weeks at one of the 100,000 lakes that our province has to offer, and those who prefer the more remote lakes (which are also always the best fishing spots) choose fly-in locations, getting dropped off by a float plane at an otherwise inaccessible northern resort.
We, however, love the convenience of being able to toss a swimsuit in a bag and be out at the lake within a moment’s notice; we can go out for the day or the evening and be back home without missing a beat. On the other hand, if we’re at the lake and a storm is rolling in, we can be packed up and home doing laundry within the hour. This accessibility, however, comes with a price: we never slow down.
“We must not wish to do everything at once, or become a saint in four days,” says St. Philip Neri, and we’re going to try to take his advice this summer. We’re going to let cool and rainy days do what they naturally do: slow us down. Instead of rushing into the city to do laundry and errands, make appointments and shop, we’re going to let the rain unhurry us. We’ll rest and read and do a jigsaw puzzle.
And maybe every day this summer, rain or shine, I’ll slow my prayer. Take a little extra time to collect myself first, pray my morning offering more mindfully, meditate on the Gospel a little longer, and lengthen my silence. I won’t be in such a rush to move on to the next thing, get on with my day, or become a saint overnight.
Can I find ways to be less rushed this summer? Can I slow my prayer?