the winding down.

We’re getting to that point in the summer, somehow, when we begin to look back and wonder, “Where did the time go?” Things are winding down. 

In the everyday liturgy of living in the Midwest, summer is considered the gift that winter has withheld from you. Unless you’re a winter person and in that case, I’m concerned about your well-being. 

So summer comes and we swim, we travel, we stay up late (no school tomorrow!), and we rediscover ice cream. Either that or there’s some sort of seasonal exemption that says heat actually eliminates cholesterol. If that is true, then my prayers have been answered. 

There is something about a season winding down, however, that matters. 

The school supplies are out, the days peak in heat before drifting lazily into September, and we see a restlessness in children and parents that bookends the restlessness that came at the end of the school year. The summer winds down, and we remember it fondly. We think about it with joy, sorrow, happiness or regret. 

We’re a culture of “moving on” - we don’t do a lot of looking backward because forward is where everyone else is looking, and it appears that to not look forward is to forsake your membership in the human race. 

But there is a practice of remembering that is vital to us - recalling a day, a conversation, a season, or an experience can bring us wisdom and insight that no future preparation or possibility can possibly give. 

We live in three times - past, present, and future. The past makes us who we are, the present is where we deliver on those past experiences and the future is what will happen when the script continues on. God is an integral part of memory, as well. 

When a day winds down, we look back on it to see how things went: Did I screech at my kids today - and why? Did I engage in life-giving practices or let my best time and energy seep out slowly into the ground? Where did I sense God’s presence - encouraging me and pushing me forward - and where did I sense his absence? Was there a time of loneliness or pain today, and what caused that? 

When a day or season winds down, there is a practice of recalling the day and discovering God’s presence there. There are no wasted moments in any season. 

A season of divorce. 
A season of professional success.
A season of cancer.
A season of creative flow. 
A season of mourning. 
A season of contentment. 

In each chapter, in each moment, the presence of God is there. “I will never leave you or forsake you” is not a bit of greeting card theology, it is the reality of divine accompaniment that is true wherever we are and whoever we are. So as we wind down, we take stock and examine the moments gone by, we shouldn’t be surprised to realize that more was going on then than we imagined. 

When seasons wind down, we have an opportunity to ask a kind and compassionate God this question: “Where were you in that time? Where was I? What does that mean?”

What kind of season are you in today - this month - this summer even? 

When was the last time you went hunting for the presence of God in your own memories of that season? Now, in the winding down period, what new things are in you that were not there before this day or period of time began? 

May God bless you in the winding down, not only to see what has come before and who walked with you throughout, but to see where you may be headed with a new set of experiences and grace.