Summer Brain Drain

My sister-in-law posted a picture the other day of my niece enjoying her first week of summer vacation from elementary school.  In the picture, my niece was stretched out in the sun on a beach chair with her nose buried deep inside a book.  In the caption and comments, my sister-in-law noted that the teacher had told students to “read, read, read!” and that my niece had truly taken that to heart. 

For those of us who have experienced a traditional 9 month school calendar, the idea of “brain drain” is probably something we are familiar with.  Three months is a long time to go without regular, intentional, and sustained learning and much is likely to be lost in that time. Whether it is teachers sending home packets of math problems or just pleading with students to “read, read, read,” the threat of summer brain drain is something that definitely needs to be worked against. 

This got me thinking about how our summer break from Sunday School might also contribute to a form of brain drain (or perhaps spirit drain).  Sure, we still have worship to stir up our spirits, but do we perhaps lose a bit of our rootedness in the Christian story/stories when we do not have regular, intentional, and sustained opportunities to explore these stories further?  Do we lose a bit of our sense of community when we don’t have that extra hour to be together?

In light of these questions, I’d like to offer some suggestions:

1)  Read, read, read!  Read from scripture.  See what resources you can find to help you understand scripture in new ways.  Read from books that challenge and inspire you to live faith anew every morning.  Read old words and new.  Read with a friend.  Read with a child.  Take someone along with your questions and your musings as you read together.  (If you would like some help finding resources or suggestions on books, let me know.)
2)  Create new spaces to build community.  Not having summer Sunday School frees up a great opportunity to eat more meals together with new people or people who you haven’t connected with in far too long.  Or you could invite someone to come cheer on CMC’s softball team this summer. 
3) Take on a new spiritual practice.  Take a risk.  Try something new.  There are many different practices that can take on a spiritual nature if given some intention.  Sometimes we just need a new way of connecting with God to shake us from any complacency that has built up in our lives.  Not everything will stick, and that’s okay, but I would encourage you to give any new practice at least a set amount of time before abandoning it.  They are called practices because they will probably take time to bloom.

Even if you don’t decide to spend your first week of summer with your nose buried in the Bible, I hope this time away from Sunday School can be a time of continuing growth for all of us.