Three Simple Summer Tasks

Reflections

My Summer To-Do List:

1. Take a long walk.
2. Read a good book.
3. Make a new friend.

Advice I learned from Rabbi Lisa Greene, who often quoted her father, Rabbi Barry Greene’s annual summer to-do list (and no we are not related).

Take a long walk. I hope to take many long walks. I love summer in Chicago. When the weather is nice, I try my best to be outside. I think Rabbi Barry Greene’s advice was poignant — for what happens on those long walks? My mind wanders, and yet I appreciate my surroundings. Sometimes I notice beautiful flowers or a spectacular tree. Sometimes I get lost in my own thoughts. Sometimes, I have no idea where I ended up or how I arrived. Often I find myself in a moment of awe and wonder, or as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel called it Radical Amazement. Think about this way- when we walk from place to place we have a purpose, walking as transactional, getting me from point A to point B. But on those long walks, we’re able to look at the world in a different way, taking nothing for granted, truly appreciating the sound of the wind, the grass beneath our feet, the breath of fresh air.

Read a good book. Or two or three. Somehow, my reading list piles up over the course of the year, and summer becomes that time that I begin to read through the pile. I’ll likely read a mystery novel for my book club, a book or two to prepare my own soul for the High Holy Days, and I have a few books I’d like to re-read as well. When I’m able to find the time to sit on my balcony or on a patio, or really anywhere outside during the summer and read, I feel a sense of calmness amidst the busy world we live in. What’s on your reading list?

Make a new friend. When I first heard these three pieces of advice, I always assumed this third part was to take place at summer camp. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. As I’ve gotten older, it’s more difficult to make new friends. Summer camp provided a natural environment for meeting a new friend, as someone in my camp group would likely become a new friend. But now, it’s not so natural. Perhaps that’s why this final piece of advice is so important. All year long, it’s easy for me to stay within my close network of friends, but in the pause of summer, there’s an opportunity to open up to the possibility, to the opportunity of meeting a new friend.

I might have a much longer summer to-do list, but I’ll keep that one on my desk at work and on my fridge at home.

I invite you to take part in this same to do list of three simple, yet meaningful tasks this summer of 2018:

Take a long walk, read a good book, make a new friend.

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