by Paul Johnson, LMFT, LPC, NCC
(Originally printed in 280 Living, Birmingham, AL, June 2014)
The line, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” is usually used in relation to Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukah/New Years. Yet many of us feel that the most wonderful time is summertime, when life is slower and obligations are fewer. Yes, some parents go into a panic, if ever so slightly, realizing that summer requires kid entertainment 24-hours-a-day for 12 weeks. Yet somehow we manage to calm down, and restructure.
Thanks to the intense heat here in the south, life moves a little slower in the summer; and thanks to no school traffic, overall traffic seems to be less congested in the summer. There is pool time, lake time, grill time, hammock time. Yes, the yard needs to be mowed every week (hopefully there is no drought), but then we get the payoff of that fresh-mowed-grass smell. Yes, the garden needs to be watered everyday, but then we get awesome fresh tomatoes, okra, eggplant, peppers, and so forth and so on and now my mouth is watering — which makes me think of watermelon — mmm, mmmmm. Summer is good. It is a great time to sit on the back or front porch, with a fan going, and a glass of tea, and visit — to linger long as the sun slowly sets, to gaze at the stars, and visit. Summers were made for visiting.
Larry Crabb, author of Inside Out and Connecting, wrote in his book, The Safest Place on Earth, of being on a walk with his wife in Miami, FL, down a road that held several retirement homes. As they walked he noticed that all of the chairs on the large front porches were facing forward, with none of them turned even ever so slightly toward the next. This turning, whether slight or obvious, would have represented conversation, an opportunity for words, thoughts, ideas, and life to be passed back and forth — visiting — connection. Yet all the chairs faced forward, its occupants disconnected.
We are creatures who want to belong, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We desire a family or a community. No one truly wants to do life alone. Oh, we may have extroverted or introverted tendencies that require us to be with people or to be alone in order to rest, recover, or restore, but beyond that, we want to be with someone or someones in a profoundly connected way. I challenge you this summer to make the profoundly connected way possible through porch time; choose a porch, either front or back, put out some comfortable chairs, and make visiting a priority. Take advantage of the slower season, and visit. Start a conversation, sip some tea, spit some seeds. But intentionally visit.
Mmmmm, my son just sat down at the table with a slice of watermelon. I, uh; hmmmm. Forgive me for being so brief, but I, uhm, need to visit with him a little bit.
Hey, look, a fork.
To talk further about slowing or visiting, please consider LifePractical Counseling for your counseling or consultant needs. You may reach us at 205-807-6645, or contact him via our website at www.lifepractical.org. Paul Johnson is a professionally licensed marriage and family therapist and professionally licensed counselor in the state of Alabama.