Have you seen the back-to-school ads yet? Frank said he saw his first one before he even got out of school for the summer. Since the Fourth of July, I’ve seen them everywhere: in my daily newspaper, on TV, on my Twitter feed. This, even though Teresa still has six weeks of summer day camp. Part of me wouldn’t mind the kids getting back to school early. For working parents of young children, summer can be a logistical nightmare. There are plenty of day camps, but many of them cost plenty, too. They don’t necessarily start when school gets out, and nearly all of them end before school starts again. It’s fine for families who are fortunate enough for the parents to be able to take some time off work to fill in the gaps, but others end up patching together care. School at least brings routine back, and for me, routines are comfortable. But school doesn’t allow for the kind of experiential learning that can happen in the summer. Last week, Teresa spent two days with her grandma, including her first overnight away from home without a parent. She had a blast (“We went to two pools in two days! And I got goggles that go over my nose! And they’re pink!”). And now she knows that she can do it. The same time Teresa was staying with her grandma, Frank and I took a trip to Colorado, visiting family friends and three colleges. It was the first time he’d been to the mountains, and he’s already talking about going back. While we were there, I did a little mountain driving, which is definitely out of my comfort zone. We got to a trailhead in a state park for a short hike. We kept it brief and easy — we’d been in Chicago four hours earlier, and Frank noticed the thinner air as soon as we stepped off the plane — but for Frank, scrambling up rocks to look down at Boulder spread out beneath us was something new. In the Gospels, we are told that Jesus went up into the mountains to pray. Sometimes he got the solitude he seemed to be seeking; sometimes the crowds followed him. We know they came and stayed without any provision for feeding themselves, so they were leaving their comfort zone as well — not just physically, but also spiritually as they listened to the Sermon on the Mount. So in this summer — or what remains of it — try to embrace the breaks in routine. Step off the path you’ve beaten for yourself and visit somewhere new or try something different. Open yourself up and take advantage of the new perspective to listen for what God might be telling you. Then, when you’re ready to go back, to school or just your everyday life, you can take what you’ve seen and heard and felt and learned with you.