Spiritual Formation

Life Begins All Over Again

Sun through leaves

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees,

just as things grow in fast movies,

I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


If you’ve seen the Disney movie Big Hero 6, you undoubtedly remember the climactic scene where Hiro and his inflatable nurse-robot Baymax enter a mysterious portal to rescue Abigail, the daughter of the vengeful Professor Callaghan.

Baymax and Hiro find Abigail, who has been drifting around in her capsule, lost and unconscious, for some time. Baymax grabs the capsule and begins to propel it back toward the portal exit. Hiro clings to the top of the capsule and navigates around all of the space debris. “To the left! Hard right! Up and over! Level off. Easy. Woohoo! Nice flying. We’re almost there.”

But then Baymax spots a huge boulder flying straight for them. He positions himself to take the hit and save the capsule. Sadly his superhero suit is crushed on impact, and it slips away in pieces into the dark unknown. His thrusters are rendered inoperable. And the only option left is for Baymax to sacrifice himself one last time on the others’ behalf.

Hiro and Baymax share a touching goodbye—after which Baymax gives Hiro and Abigail and the capsule one final thrust. Then Baymax floats off into space just like his suit before him, and the capsule hurls toward the opening. It zooms through the portal, lands hard on the ground in the “real world,” bumps a time or two, then screeches to a halt.

And that, my friends, is what June feels like to me.

I don’t know about you, but we flew through the school year at often breakneck speed, navigating around whatever life threw at us next. We had some near misses and took some direct hits and said some sad goodbyes. Now we come hurling through the portal. We land with a smack and a thud, a bit dazed and stunned, nursing a strange mix of emotions—grief and relief. We made it—if barely. But what in the world just happened?

The rockiness of the June transition is magnified for our family by the fact that Peter and I are both professors, so we have the summers together at home. Consequently, it isn’t just me who has to transition into this new summer way of life. It isn’t just the kids. It’s all of us. The whole blessed family. Bump. Bump. Screech. Thud.

Last Thursday was the first official day of Worrall summer, the first day when no one had to be at work or at school. So Peter and I met on our patio that afternoon to ask some hard questions and formulate a plan. My peonies and irises were in full bloom. The kids were playing in the sandpit. Peter was sipping a cup of tea. And I was creating lists and tables on my laptop. Obviously.

First, we typed out every task that needs to be done in the next three months, every home repair that ought to be addressed, every activity that could be attended, every purchase that could be made. We sat there with the highlighted park district flyer and the camp schedule and the emails from family regarding good dates to visit. And we tried to piece together the puzzle.

Of course, it didn’t take long to realize that there were more tasks and activities and opportunities  and needs than there was time.

Staring down the calendar and the list, Peter and I were left asking—yet again—how do we decide what stays and what goes? What we allow into our lives and what we don’t? What we ought to invest in and what we ought not?

How can we live intentionally? How do we steward well each day that we have been given? How might we begin again?

We decided on three simple values, three simple criteria against which we will weigh things this summer, three simple qualities that we want for our family because they are important to us. But even more—we believe they are important to God.

  • Good health. Does this thing (this activity, this to-do, this purchase, this commitment) lead our family toward greater health—spiritual, physical, mental, emotional? Or not?
  • Relational connection. Does this thing provide the opportunity for a deeper connection with our family and friends and community? Or does it hinder that connection from happening?
  • Eternal value. Is this thing just meaningless, a chasing after the wind (Eccl. 1:14)? Or does it build up the kingdom of God?

That’s what we want to be about this summer as best we can and by the grace of God.

How about you? What criteria do you use for how you spend your hours and your days? Please share.

So, here’s to summer and fresh starts and the sun through the leaves and tall glasses of ice cold lemonade and life beginning—all over again.


2 thoughts on “Life Begins All Over Again

  1. There is a certain chaos to “freedom,” I suppose, and I think we are creatures of pattern. Today is a day off for me, so I’m spending extra time this morning reading, but I needed to start the day mostly the same, reading my Bible then tossing in a load of laundry. It’s like pulling the cord a few times on the push mower. 🙂 What you described is exactly what I do at the beginning of each year. I was really specific a couple of years ago, as you were, writing down the three things I valued most, then measuring my goals and activities against those three things. Great practice, thanks for sharing yours!

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