July is the month I sort through and clean out my paper (and now electronic!) files. It’s intriguing how many files under the letter ‘R’ begin with ‘re-‘: retreat, revival, recycle, research. This prefix ‘re’, means ‘back’ or ‘again and again’. This prefix also can intensify the meaning of the word that it precedes. This little prefix can inspire changes to re-organize our lives.
Why not re-write your wills this summer? Or re-turn a borrowed item and re-new a friendship? Perhaps re-consider a poor habit and re-vive a healthier one. This month could be a good time to re-duce the clutter in your home and re-consider the things you collect.
Now might be the right time to re-concile with an estranged family member, or re-build a damaged relationship. You might re-claim a good intention, or re-commit time and energy to an important cause. We do well to re-call what we value, and re-solve to give it due attention.
We can all re-cycle and re-use many items that we now throw away. Or re-pent of criticism and re-frain from harmful words. We can re-trieve a rusty skill, or re-flect on a new idea. Maybe re-furbish an old treasure and re-place dead batteries. We can re-inforce a helpful practice and re-cruit others to make a change.
We need to re-member that our ability to accomplish any of these changes, to re-turn to a more fulfilled lifestyle or re-search a new direction, does not happen through our efforts alone. The God, in Whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17.28) plants the desire to make a new start in our hearts and minds. In one of his short letters, the apostle John re-frames our assumption about motivation: “in this is love, not that we loved God [first], but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” (I John 4.10).
At the same time, we do have a role in re-forming our lives. Sr. Joan Chittister describes it this way: “It is not faith to rely on God to supply what we are capable of doing for ourselves. Faith is not passivity. Faith is the surety that we are meant to have what we are striving for, that it will come in God’s good time—as long as we do our part, as well, to make it possible.”
Most of all, summer is a time to re-lax the body, re-fresh the mind, and re-store the spirit with rest, good food, and re-creation. As we re-view our lives and loves, may we re-tain what is valuable, re-lease what is completed, re-cover what we desire, and re-joice in the present.