Holy Days

The rest of summer.

Opinion & Critical Thought
Summer. For many of us, it means the rush of the school year that dictates the pace of our lives has come to an end. We are invited to slow down and breathe, to enjoy two months of warm, sunny days and fill them with memories. And yet we are so tied to our calendars—whatever we use to keep on top of all our activities—that it seems strange to think about setting them aside for the summer, or even for a moment.

I recall my childhood summers with such fondness, it stirs a place deep inside me, a place I guard fiercely. Summers spent with cousins and family friends. Summers spent running wild through what seemed like a vast wilderness of open space, with long grass and trees as far as our eyes could see. Summers spent swimming in the lake, hollering to each other to duck under the water when the horseflies began swarming.

I remember the smell of the campfire at dusk as my dad and grandpa created a sacred space for us to share stories, sing and play some instruments. We roasted marshmallows and baked potatoes wrapped in tinfoil. We performed the same skits over and over again for our parents, an audience that never grew tired of cheering and clapping, bestowing on us something beyond our comprehension at the time—the gift of esteem and self-worth.

When the singing and skits were over and the sun was tucked away for the night, we dared each other to sneak off into the neighbouring graveyard—never sure we would make it out alive. We shared ghost stories in the dark, resulting in hysterical laughter or a terrified trip to the safety of our parents playing board games in the cottage up the hill.

Come Sunday morning, we often found ourselves sitting around the fire once again, for our own version of church—lawn chairs on holy ground.
For me, that small cottage in Ontario was sacred land, a thin place—where heaven and earth meet and seem to touch.
Lifelong friendships developed as we ran around in the hot sun, playing hide and seek in the bushes. We learned how to be doctors when we happened upon wounded forest creatures, once desperately trying to save a snake with a BandAid. We learned how to be entrepreneurs when we raided cupboards for cookies and baked goods, then sold them back to our unsuspecting parents and used the profits to buy our own candy and treats from the general store. We became amateur counsellors when a heart was broken or an ego bruised from losing a game of chicken. We defied sleep at sleepovers, giggling over crushes.

There was no such thing as being careful or cautious—it was normal for eight-year-olds to race a four-wheel vehicle around the property. We took our cues from my grandfather, a man who saw the joy in every situation and longed to create a wonderland of fun where kids could be kids. We all cheered when he sat on an old kitchen chair, on top of a wooden board, and was pulled around the lake by a speedboat. He showed us that we are only limited by our imaginations.

I miss those days. For me, that small cottage in Ontario was sacred land, a thin place—where heaven and earth meet and seem to touch. In the midst of a busy schedule, I long for more of this peace for myself and my family, for play and deep rest.

Jesus knows our need. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). What a beautiful promise. I can’t recreate the past or transport myself back to those summers. But what I can do is find rest in the presence of Jesus, and wait in expectation as he creates new thin places in our lives.

Lieutenant Erin Metcalf is the corps officer at Niagara Orchard Community Church in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Feature photo: © Warchi/iStock.com


On Sunday, August 19, 2018, carolyn beagan said:

Erin, I just finished reading your story. It happily (and a little sadly)took me back to summers spent with family and friends on Georgian Bay near Parry Sound ON. We bought our cottage when I was in 4th or 5th grade (1970's)and had for many years. Now with August winding down, your story has served as a return trip to a cottage long sold and gone. Thank you for sharing your memories. Go "new thin places"--a prayer. God Bless, Carolyn


On Monday, July 16, 2018, Mary Ellen Scott said:

Thank you for sharing Erin! Our family had a cottage in Golden Lake, Ontario and the joy you describe is identical to what I felt as I played on the beach, swung in the old army hammock, and ate Shake'n Bake chicken with my family around the long table. I sometimes long for those days too, but I thank Jesus for the wonderful memories of those days many years ago, and rejoice in the wonderful memories he is bringing into my life now.


On Sunday, July 15, 2018, Jim Gallop said:

Thank you Erin; Your memories are vivid, and capture a time when life was much simpler, yet more satisfying. My parents had a cottage on Bluewater Beach, Ontario, where my brothers, sisters, and I spent many a summer making childhood memories which last a lifetime. God bless you.


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