Summer Evenings


They settle down on a neighborhood with the gentle ecstasy of flying Frisbees and shared tomatoes. They cause a kind of intoxication, but a wholesome, allowable one. They’re perfect for sneakily putting bouquets on the doorstep of the lady who found and returned your dog countless times, and for taking said dog for a run in the field even though you have more important things to do, just because he needs his doggie dose of a summer evening to prevent more jailbreaks.

I love summer evenings. I always have.

The memories: Fireflies in a jar. Treats from the ice cream truck. Unforgettable games of hide and seek tag with handsome boys much older than one would dare talk to in, for instance, a store. Running like the wind. The smell of charcoal fires. Watermelon seed spitting fights. Family. Friends. God.

I’m wrestling with some deep, existential sadness lately. I’m a melancholic songwriter who has learned to expect my feelings to fall through the floor from time to time, lying in a painful blob somewhere in the region of my solar plexus like a beached whale for about a week, when finally the serotonin receptor-builders in my brain kick into high gear and the whale miraculously slips back out to sea. I know this sadness will resolve, but right now it’s sitting heavy in my soul.

And the antidote, my therapy, is summer evenings.

I think God is trying to tell me, through the perfect weather, the simple pleasures, and the nice neighbors, that sometimes all I have to do for Him, and for anyone else, is enjoy His gifts. To look up to heaven, and say, “Thank you.” To be suspended in time, grateful that not all is sad, desperate, or disappointing, that’s what He wants for me tonight.

I think I’ll take it.

17 thoughts on “Summer Evenings

  1. Graz Reply

    I don’t often take time to reflect like that any more. I think I ‘m too busy (with nothingness) to do so. Any yet, I enjoyed your reflections as if they were my own. I too share a heaviness of heart for the things I see around me and where I am at in the moment. Oh to have a magic ball to see the future or a fairly mother to make things right would be the answer were it not for someone Greater-God. It’s times like this that I am ever so grateful for Him and the faith that He has allowed to grow within me. To see the break up of marriages, families, churches and friends etc must be a heavy burden for the ordinary person but for someone who carries the burdens of numerous persons in her heart can at times be overwhelming. You get to enjoy the joy of a wedding and then the sadness of losing a loved one all too soon in such a short period of time and we rarely see your pain. Thanks for sharing my dear and I will keep you , Mike and the girls in my prayers.

  2. Evelyn Reply

    Great reminder to appreciate the simple things God gives us every day. Thank you!

  3. Belinda Reply

    I love reading your blog. It touches my life in many ways. I hope you always know that all those who read your blog have some kind of spiritual lift. A special gift you give to us, and because of your knowledge that you share with us helps us keep going. God bless you and your music, psychology ministry and everything you do. love you Jennifer!

  4. Jan Reply

    I love fireflies, the evening song of the wood thrush, ice cream trucks and hide-n-seek until it’s too dark to find anyone.

  5. JoAnn Reply

    You are an amazing beached whale. I feel like you have let me read you private journal.

    Enjoyed my summer eve last night by picking cherry tomatoes for an hour while listening to a presentation by Caroline Miller.
    “My Name is Caroline” recovered bulimic.

    She was one of about 20 speakers for International Day of Happiness with Applied Positive Psychology Alumni from U of Penn. I have been inspired by their presentations.

    Ps 27:13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord.

    Love and big hugs.
    See you soon bounding the waves. But even the beach has its beautiful story.

  6. Jesse Ferguson Reply

    The heat of the day slowly escaped through the deflating sunset. Brenda (my girlfriend at the time) and I walked the salt bleached dock on the Seattle waterfront. My heart was pounding. In my pocket rested a box, and inside the box, an engagement ring. We found a picnic bench to rest at and enjoyed the smell of the carnival concessions, salt water, and each other. Now was as good a time as any.
    I had planned to have a big, elaborate, creative, kind of moment. I imagined gondolas and violins, maybe a musical flash-mob… but on the day when my meager wages from the Red Lobster restaurant finally afforded me this ring, I realized I couldn’t wait. Four years of courtship stood behind my lips like the water behind a dam. Promises I had already made in my heart needed to be finally voiced. I slid off the bench, and planted my knee in front of her beautiful sandal clad feet. Her eyes dilated, her smile changed.
    I pulled out of my pocket, before the ring, a plastic box. Inside, a withered dandelion rested. Seeing her confusion I explained that on a different summer evening two years previous, that she had offered me the fluffy white orb of this very dandelion to blow upon. And before its tiny downy umbrellas were scattered into the atmosphere… I was to make a wish. I explained “I never told you before… but I want to tell you today what I wished for.” I took a deep breath, I was excited, I knew she would say yes. ” I wished that you and I could be married for life, and then I blew out this dandelion. I saved it because I believed that one day my wish would come true.” She nodded in understanding, I could tell that the sunset and the smells and the whole world were invisible to her, our eyes were locked, she waited. I pulled the ring box from my pocket and told her how delighted I would be if she would be my wife. With joyful tears in her voice, she said yes. We took a “selfie” (though the term didn’t exist then) with my digital camera. We chose to call no one for a while. It was our little secret. We enjoyed dinner at the Cheese Cake Factory downtown, and talked about the future. By the time we emerged from the restaurant the stars were out. The summer evening had slipped away. I still have that dandelion today, and the selfie we took sits on our dresser. Our 19 month old toddler, Melody will one day hear this memory. Hopefully, one summer evening, she will find herself saying “yes” to a man of God, captivated by her character and beauty.

  7. Lynn Baerg Reply

    Wow! Thank you so much Jennifer, this summer evening I’ve come alone to the lake looking for the deeper walk so promised, so elusive, so vital. I too was 57–23 years ago, and have drunk deeply of life’s sorrows and joys. Thanks so much for your succinct reminders that the God of self-forgetful love keeps all His promises! The cross is that guarantee. Please stay blessed–you really blessed me tonight!

  8. judie Reply

    Summer evenings favorites – listening to crickets – listening to frogs in the pond – starting a campfire, watching it, hearing it – walking along the large lake in the sand as the sun (set) melted into the water at the horizon – a splendor of color… coming into the house after many hours outdoors… sitting around the table (or picnic table) for supper with family… turning on the electric lights at home – after enjoying natural light for a day – or many days at a it is different.
    – walking closer, warming up to loved one as the evening air cools down the very warm days…. listening together to the light rain on the roof at the close of the day.

  9. David Reply

    The scent of fresh cut hay or ploughed earth as you sail along country roads, summer has more music: birds, insects the sound of neighbors outside laughing talking…
    These are some.

    In three different locations ie states I happened to be in at the time the local church held meetings that included taking the temperament test. All three times Melancholy rated highest followed by choleric the sanguine phlegmatic always a low number. So at times I too find myself I will say pensive. Today talking after church with a lady about how God stretches us to mold us, heats things up to refine us I found the erstwhile “cloud” disappeared as quietly as it arrived. I remarked to her sometimes it is so easy to look down. When with lifted eyes I see beyond my now my heart too becomes lifted.

    I particularly like or am encouraged by Daniel’s statement: I know a God in heaven who can.

    Jen, this is something I just remembered. Perhaps it has nothing to do with this but it is worth sharing.

    No Limit People
    He who loves Christ the most will do the greatest amount of good. There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God. If men will endure the necessary discipline, without complaining or fainting by the way, God will teach them hour by hour, and day by day. He longs to reveal His grace. If His people will remove the obstructions, He will pour forth the waters of salvation in abundant streams through the human channels. If men in humble life were encouraged to do all the good they could do, if restraining hands were not laid upon them to repress their zeal, there would be a hundred workers for Christ where now there is one. – {DA 250.4}

    This week I asked myself if I trusted God with my period of sadness. Or was I with white knuckles clutching it as if life depended on my keeping it. Posing to myself david, do you trust God with whatever the issue is has proved beneficial keeping or effecting mid course corrections.
    Perhaps then God has to use his question: David, what doest thou here?

    Have a great summer such time as remains. In the cool of the evening when the windows of your soul are open may it be the sweet presence of Christ via the Holy Spirit enter the place you have prepared for him.

  10. Lana Reply

    Thank you so much Jennifer! I always enjoy your thoughts you are sharing with us so sincerely. Maybe because they always resonance with deepest thoughts of my own heart.

  11. Ryan Reply

    Hi Mrs. Schwirzer,

    Sorry to hear your sadden. You know I recently been feeling the same way over something too and you actually describe how it feels very well I think. I believe too that God is telling me to be thankful for what he has given me and positive about things in my life. I’m glad things got brighter for you and keep looking up

    Stay encouraged,

  12. Sunny Meyers Reply

    This summer evening, just a few hours ago, as I looked out my bedroom/office window the wind started to blow the leaves around and off the trees. The sun was still shinning so I didn’t think much of it. Then a I gathered up my bags of trash to go out to the dumpster from my afternoon of shredding old files, and big drops of rain were beginning to fall, so I grabbed my umbrella on the way out the door. Not caring if I got a little wet I made my way to the dumpster and delivered my cargo. After returning back inside the door it began a tremendous downpour! I love watching the pouring rain on a summer evening. Huge crashes of thunder rolled on top of the building, but I was enjoying the sound of the gushing rain. Then when all subsided, I went out to smell the fresh, cooled off air after the 90 plus heat had baked every green thing. It is a wonderful thing to enjoy simple things. Praise the Lord for the rain!

  13. Sam Reply

    Nicely put. It not always good, but it’s always good to feel that we’re all in it together.

  14. michael scott Reply

    I loved swimming at night with my grandfather as a boy on warm summer night at White Hall in Hopkinton, Ma. and looking at the tons of stars on a clear starry summer night sky! I also enjoyed cookouts at my great grandmother’s (Grama)house that lasted well into the night, playing volleyball and baseball with my relatives at these cookouts, and enjoyed eating and socializing with them! I also enjoyed watching movies with my mother and brother, and with my grandparents on summer nights, and sleeping over my grandparents mostly every weekend too!

  15. Jean Schneider Reply

    I especially remember long drives home through the countryside in summer, seeing hundreds of fireflies lighting up over the soybean fields. It looked like the moon shimmering on the water. Also, we would take our boys out to the country to Grandma’s to lay out in the backyard to see the Perseid meteor shower in mid August. In a good year, we would see dozens of falling stars, large and small, with the brightest streaking across the dark sky with an almost audible crackle (in our imaginations, of course)!
    These were the most magical moments, making life-long memories.

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