by Kari Diane Pike
My most favorite days of the year have always been Christmas Eve, the first day of school, and the first day of summer. Christmas Eve is self explanatory. The anticipation, the mystery, the sweet remembrance of the birth of the Christ Child, family get-togethers, etc. The first day of school always held promise of everything "new." Do you remember the smell of a new box crayons and the ink in new textbooks as you cracked them open and smoothed the pages? I can still hear the squeak of the chalk as the teacher wrote his/her name on the board and the sound of my voice as I placed my hand over my heart and raised my voice with others in allegiance to our flag and country. I loved the anticipation of knowing there would be moments of enlightening as I began to grasp new concepts and ideas. I miss the exhilaration of running home after that first day of school, eager to share my new found knowledge with my mom over a slice of fresh bread and a glass of milk.
As much as I love the first day of school, there's something magical about the first day of summer. Perhaps it was knowing that for one more day we would have the most time to play. Curfew happened when the street lights came on and June 21st in Northwest Montana doesn't get dark until after 10:00pm. We had all the time in the world to catch minnows, build castles in the trees, and watch the dust poof around our feet as we walked home from the convenience store. Popsicles and watermelon would drip down our hands and arms, leaving a sticky, muddy trail of evidence of where we had been and what we had been up to.
Over the years I stopped paying attention to the magic of summer. Being an adult is serious business, after all. I grew up and set aside my childish dreams and fantasies. There were schedules to keep and chores to be done. Stick to the routine! Really??
A number of weeks ago Sister Beck's words came to my attention about living with intention. A few days later, a dear friend asked if it was better to be kind naturally, to be kind habitually, or to be kind intentionally. Thoughts whirled through my mind when I pondered on that question and I decided to make my goal for the summer to be living with intention -- to pay attention to everyone and everything around me and to act intentionally with kindness and with the Savior in mind. It just so happened that on the first day of summer there was a free orchestra concert by the Timpanogas Orchestra at the American Fork Amphitheater and Jenny Oaks Baker was a guest performer. What a great family activity!
The American Fork Amphitheater was built in the 1930s as part of the work program set up by President Roosevelt. Most of the trees are the same ones planted ninety years ago. The branches on many of the trees dip to the ground and make the best places to hide-and-go-seek or find quiet and solitude. We sat with our sweatshirts under us to protect our rumps from the damp grass and prepared to listen to the clashing of symbols in the William Tell Overture and the sweet strains of Amazing Grace. The temperature was cool but not cold. The trees swayed in the breeze, but where we sat the air was still. Families sat together in the amphitheater and on blankets and lawn chairs under those magnificent trees. The scent of fried chicken and pizza mingled with that of nearby blossoms and newly mowed hay. Babies toddled, belly laughing as they tried to escape beyond their mothers' reach. Two preteen girls played a hand clapping game and then dived under a blanket in a fit of giggles. A father scolded, just for a moment, and older siblings led younger ones by the hand to find treats at the refreshment stand. Insects buzzed and flitted above our heads, but none pestered. Birds lighted on branches and held their song as if they too anticipated the music to come. When the orchestra began to play, the magic of summer came rushing back in a swirl of energy that took my breath away.
Each day brings new joy as I continue to try to live with intention and purpose. Everything around me testifies of the magnificence of God's creations and his love for us. 3 Nephi 27:27 - 29 tells us, "What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am...whatsoever things ye shall ask the Father in my name shall be given unto you...Therefore ask, and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you, for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened." All we have to do is ask and knock...intention and purpose...and the Lord is waiting to pour blessings upon us!
What is your favorite day of the year? How do you create magic when you write?