Home Catechetical Corner Laura Kelly Fanucci: This summer, find God in seven surprising places

Laura Kelly Fanucci: This summer, find God in seven surprising places

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Ocean City
Bishop Malooly, parishioners and vacationers join together on the beach for blessing of the water Aug. 15, 2018. Dialog Photo/Joseph P. Owens

School is done and summer has begun. But between registering kids for sports and mapping family road trips, I’ve had to catch myself. Where could we seek and find God in this new season, too?

Here are seven places you might delight to encounter God with your family this summer.

— By the water

If you spend time near a lake, river or ocean, let your thoughts wander from the waves to the God who once walked on them.

Take a moment to pray to Jesus who lived near the shore: “Once again he went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them” (Mk 2:13).

— Eating outside

When we think of Jesus eating, we often picture the Last Supper in the upper room. But remember he ate outside, too: miraculous meals when he fed thousands or ordinary afternoons when he stopped to eat with his friends. Sound familiar for the rest stops and road trips of your youth?

Christ even cooked for his friends the morning after his resurrection, a reminder that every picnic or campfire meal can lead us to prayer: “Jesus said to them, ‘Come, have breakfast’“ (Jn 21:12).

— Under the night sky

Laura Kelly Fanucci writes the “Faith at Home” column for Catholic News Service. (CNS photo/courtesy Laura Kelly Fanucci)

As a child, I listened to my grandfather tell ancient tales of the constellations around a bonfire. Our faith is full of star stories, too: the creation of the heavens in Genesis, God’s promise to Abraham of countless descendants and the new star that pointed the Magi to Bethlehem.

How could campfire conversations invite your children or grandchildren to wonder like the sky-gazing psalmist, “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you set in place” (Ps 8:4)?

— Among the flowers

As a mom of five boys, I have been given dandelion bouquets for years now. Each proud fistful reminds me to stop and see the beauty — even in the weeds — that God has planted around us.

Summer brings full bloom to many landscapes, offering the sight and scent of creation’s bounty in ways that inspire our prayer and praise:

“Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them” (Mt 6:28-29).

— On vacation

Jesus and his followers were often on the move during his ministry. While their travels were far from a summer vacation, any chance we get to see or stay somewhere different can open our eyes to new ways of knowing God.

As you pack for a family reunion or weekend with friends, carry the spirit of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Then they said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?’“ (Lk 24:32).

— Gathering together

After long months of isolation or separation, many are rejoicing in reconnecting with loved ones.

As we set extra places at the table, spread picnic blankets at the park or double the recipes for favorite summer treats, we can offer prayers of thanksgiving: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).

— In rest

Remember as you work and play this summer that rest is holy, too: “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation” (Gn 2:3).

Let yourself take a nap, read a spiritual book or curl up for a cuddle with your youngest family member. What space can you make for Sabbath in each week of this fleeting season?

Fanucci is a writer, speaker, and author of several books including “Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting.” Her work can be found at laurakellyfanucci.com.