We’ve just passed the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere. The sun is at its most powerful and the days are long. Despite temperatures hitting 100 degrees each day (the average temperature for Tucson in June), we marked the occasion by letting even more sun into our back yard.

We did this by removing the second of our two palo verde trees. Last summer, the large limbs on one of those gorgeous trees began breaking off, so we had it removed. This year, roots from the second tree began lifting a portion of the wall along the edge of our property (and one large branch was deemed unsafe for the upcoming monsoon season), so we had the second tree cut down.

I think Henry and I are both grieving the loss of that tree. We used to have enough shade to grill at dinner time—but no tree filters the sun now, so it’s a lot brighter and hotter in our back yard in the afternoons. There’s also a very different feel to being in the yard, even in the mornings.

We will get used to it. We got used to the absence of the first tree. As I’ve noted before, it seems the only constant is change in this life.

So, as I ponder the absence of shade, I’m wondering what gifts will come with letting the sun shine in. There will be less mess from the trees, in terms of fallen flowers, leaves, and seedpods. We can see more stars at night. We do intend to plant one or two new trees in the back yard, which will eventually grow tall enough to provide shade. This time we will get to choose which trees fit best with our vision for the space.

Ultimately, I’m sensing that measured, prayerful response is the best—as it usually is. We will take our time in determining when and what actions to take (this is not the right season to plant anything; it’s just too hot). There will be a right time to move forward into what’s next. Right now, in the heat of summer, it’s best to just let things be.

That also feels like a good metaphor for my spiritual self right now. When people talk about the heat of summer here in the Sonoran Desert, I joke about it being like Wisconsin in winter: half the people leave and the other half stay indoors. With the sun beating down outside, it’s time to stay indoors—maybe even rest, relax, and pray!

What do the sun and heat of summer bring out/up for you? What invitations might you need to shine into your life?