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By Sister Pam Smith | Image By Getty images/CSA-Printstoc | August 2022

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days?

Fans of golden oldies may recently have chanced upon Nat King Cole’s rendition of “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer.” It’s mostly about pretzels, beer, drive-in movies and kissing — in other words, early ‘60s young adult innocence tinged with mild limit-testing. It’s a song of middle class luxury.

The song is clearly a nostalgia piece — one that receded in credibility once assassinations, riots, Vietnam protests and the phrase “long, hot summer” became associated with gang violence, looting and racial conflict.

All of these emblems of 1960s history persist. We still have the disrupting distinctions and discriminations and continue to belie them with commercials and online pop-ups touting grand getaways, sparkling SUVs in driveways and smart gadgets promising round-the-clock comfort.

For some reason, as I’ve tended the convent garden these steamy days, I’ve found myself pondering what is good about summer and what it covers up.

First, what summer covers up is definitely not skin. So — and here’s the predictable nunny admonition — it’s high time that we think again about what constitutes indecent exposure and what’s appropriate garb for Mass attendance and public events.

Second, we who live in modest and mostly nice neighborhoods do well to venture into the areas served by our outreach centers. There we will see what we typically don’t. Not far from gated golf communities we find concrete barracks housing migrant farm workers and also uninhabitable rusty trailers with holes in the roofs and floors, hazardous wiring and dubious water supply. Ask the sisters I live with (who run an outreach center) why they collect sneakers and food for migrants. Ask them for pictures of homes they are repairing or replacing for one-legged or tumorous elderly women. Or, listen to their stories about toothless men, abandoned mothers and couples caring for grandbabies and great-grandbabies who rely on food donations, utility assistance and help with dental bills. Ask the neighbors about nights when thunderstorms are punctuated by revving engines and gunshots on what, by day, seem sleepy back roads.

We have dire poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic abuse and economic inequities among us. Whatever we can do to help address these problems is God-blessed work. Blithely ignoring troubling situations and troubled souls is sheer laziness — and sinful.

So, one of the good things about summer is that grim realities may come to light, and we will reconsider how we spend our time and money come autumn, winter and spring.

Finally, another good thing, amidst southern humidity, is the invitation to Sabbath — and I’m assuming that the readers of this magazine aren’t the sort who deem vacation an exemption from going to Mass — that comes with the reminder that human bodies, minds and spirits need restoration. We need leisurely moments on beaches, in forested cabins, or at home in a lawn chair or on a porch rocker. We need time to listen to birdsong, to watch ducklings waddle across our streets, to see how flowers perk after rain and to consider God’s glory in a starry sky.

Our new bishop’s motto is “Whatever you do to the least of my children you do to me.” Perhaps, as we slow our pace a bit and take our necessary rest, we may hear the Lord’s call to counter laziness, haziness and craziness by becoming engaged and purposeful — and ready to really, truly welcome the stranger and love our neighbors.

Sister Pamela Smith, SSCM, Ph.D., is the director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Email her at