Reflections: The summertime of our youth

The summertime of our youth
By William L. Bulla
Weekly Contributing Writer

Summertime arrives this week! Do you remember the summertime of your youth? I do! But, as I am older than most of you, the summers I remember growing up will probably be much different than your memories. I remember the song "Summertime" from the 1935 opera, Porgy and Bess? It became a popular jazz standard. The lyrics begin "Summertime, When the livin' is easy..." That's the way I remember my youth.
My summers were filled with play! Perhaps because I grew up in a working-class family, my memories of summer weren't filled with the summer camps our children enjoy today. Each day was lazy, but filled with fun and games with my friends. Yes, we had some chores, and had to attend a week of Summer Bible School, but our days were filled to the brim with games of every kind. We would climb trees, run through the fields and swim in the creek. We would swing through the air on swings made with a rope and old auto tires. Roller-skating was fun, but it was different than it is today. We wore heavy skates with four-wheels that had to be attached to the soles of our shoes with a special key. If we got 4 or 5 kids together we would even play sandlot baseball. Often we used a hand-wound ball of string we had saved over the winter, wrapped tightly and covered with adhesive tape. Many times our bats were tree limbs trimmed down to our size. Summer's long days allowed us to run out after supper and fill the neighborhood with cries of "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free". As dusk descended, we grabbed Mason jars and chased lightening bugs until we were herded into the house for our bath, prayers and bed. And, off we went without worry or concern.
I imagine many of you had similar childhood memories of fun and play. But now we're adults. The summers of our youth have long departed. As we age, we become aware of the hot, humid days...lawns to cut, gardens to weed, fruit and vegetables to harvest, property to repair, and other chores that can't be done in winter.
There are many items to fill those extra hours of daylight. Those longer days we enjoyed as kids; we now find them filled with work.
This stress can take its toll on us. As adults we still need to play for recreation or to rest up from heavy responsibilities. It offers escape from emotional stress and life's confusing issues. It can also be a chance to laugh, let go of our fears and open our hearts spiritually. It can set our hearts and souls at rest. Our playtime can simply be relaxing with the family savoring homemade ice cream with sliced peaches or strawberries, sipping on a glass of lemonade, or playing a game with the kids. For many families it's a chance to take a trip together...the mountains...the beach...or some other special place. Or it may simply be a few spiritual moments. Pray! Read the Bible! Meditate! Believers in Christ need to heed Jesus' invitation: "Come apart and rest awhile." This period of play and prayer will help you to thrive spiritually, psychologically and physically. You'll return to the routine refreshed. You could even begin to enjoy your adult summers as you enjoyed your summers when you were a kid!

Mr. Bulla is a resident of Washington County, Maryland.