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"Simplify your summer" by Maria V. Gallagher (CatholicMom.com) Photo by Raphael Biscaldi (2017) via Unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain[/caption]   On summer days my mind often returns to “Berwick Beach.” “Berwick Beach” was the name my mother gave to the yard behind our apartment building during the summertime. She would blow up a kiddie pool, fill it with water from the garden hose, and let my sister and me pretend to swim for hours. We could not afford to take a trip to an actual beach. In fact, we could not even afford a season pass to the local swimming pool. So our aquatic adventures began and ended at Berwick Beach. And we absolutely loved it! Another summertime tradition was Breakfast at Wimbledon. As you might have guessed, we could hardly afford a flight to the British Isles. So our Wimbledon consisted of badminton games with our mother and an outdoor breakfast of strawberries. And again, we were overjoyed. These sun-drenched memories have gotten me to thinking that a good life can be defined by simple pleasures. Biting into a ripe strawberry … playing backyard games … tending to a small garden — these little things can bring great joy, if we give ourselves permission to savor the moment. Now, I realize that the chances of today’s ten-year-olds being fascinated with a ‘70s game of Pong are unlikely. And I am not willing to turn my back on technology — I believe it can be a force for great good. But I often wonder whether elaborate birthday parties, expensive vacations, and non-stop competitive sports activities bring about the kind of happiness we all desire. By spending less, rushing less, and simplifying our summers, we may attain the kind of joy that has eluded us since we were tykes. I have found the same principle holds true for the spiritual life. I used to think the express route to holiness was reading as many prayers as I could find in the back of my missal. I have since discovered that, while written prayers can be quite helpful, an earnest cry of “Help!” to God may be just what I need during a stressful hour of my day. Recently, I have begun to do a morning offering, offering all the prayers, actions, and sacrifices of the day to God through the hands of my faithful mother Mary. This prayer makes me more thoughtful throughout the day, and more cognizant of whether my actions are leading me toward or away from God in the present moment. So I invite you to take a step back during these precious warm days and think about how you can simplify your summer. You may just rediscover the beauty and goodness of the world right outside your back door.

What are some ways you can simply your summer—and find God in the process?

Copyright 2018 Maria V. Gallagher