The author of Ecclesiastes is famously jaded. He’s been there, done that, lived to tell about it, and is awfully hard to impress. Life is brief, he writes—and when it’s over, nobody knows f or sure what happens next. And so, as a result, it can be hard for us to find meaning and purpose in our relatively limited time on this earth.

Truly, the author of this Old Testament book of wisdom often strikes me as being like that guy in your college freshman Intro to Philosophy class who always tried a bit too hard to come across as blasé about matters of eternal significance.

Nevertheless, for all its supposed world-weariness, Ecclesiastes gives us a surprisingly upbeat set of marching orders: “I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live” (Ecclesiastes 3:12). Enjoy life. Make the most of the time you’ve been given. Do what makes you happy. How about that? All this from the guy we thought was too cool to care!

This summer, with masks gradually coming off and people gradually coming together as more and more of us get our vaccines, I suspect that many of us will gladly follow the advice we find in Ecclesiastes. Trips, parties, vacations, date nights, and all sorts of other fun events that got shelved last year because of the virus are now suddenly back in play again. It’s finally time, in other words, for us to think about what great things the lazy days of 2021 might have in store for us. How will we enjoy life this summer?

I hope you’ve been giving it some thought. I certainly have been. So, in honor of the rapidly-approaching onset of summer—which officially begins on June 20— here is a partial list of joyful things I hope to do between now and Labor Day:

Go to a baseball game: I don’t usually go to a ton of baseball games, but, for some reason, last year I really missed the experience of being at a ballpark. Sitting on the third base line at the Knights’ stadium, with that great view of uptown spreading out over the right field wall, is one of my favorite places to be in Charlotte.

Enjoy homemade peach ice cream: The pandemic couldn’t stop this from happening last summer—it’s a Canipe family tradition to make peach ice cream during July—but I think I’ll savor it more knowing that, unlike last year, we can invite the neighbors over to help us enjoy it this summer.

Spend a week at the beach with extended family: Again, we got to do this on a limited basis in 2020, but this year, my mom’s whole side of the family—cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.—are planning to be at Emerald Isle for a few days of happily-cramped togetherness that would’ve been impossible a few months ago.

Run a 5K race: I try to do a few road races every year. I love the energy and positive vibe of being at a crowded starting line early on a Saturday morning with a few hundred people who are there simply because they like to run. Most of us aren’t running to win—though, on a good day, maybe we can hope to place in our age group—but we’re there because it’s fun. The last time I got to do something like this was when I ran with a Providence team in Charlotte Marathon Relay in November of 2019. It’s high time to race again!

Take a road trip: The Canipe boys—ie, my two sons and I—took an epic road trip during the summer of 2018 that took us to some sports halls of fame, two major league games, and a few historic sites. We had planned on doing Road Trip 2.0 last summer. This summer, we’re hoping to make a go of it. As my children get older, I’ve become increasingly aware that the window of opportunity for road trips like this won’t stay open forever.

Visit Middle C Jazz Club: This has totally been a post-Covid goal of mine for a while now. I’ve never been to a jazz club before. Our own Noel Friedline is a frequent performer at Middle C and I’ve asked him to let me know when he’ll be doing shows this summer. I love the fact that Charlotte has a music venue like this and, knowing how much the arts have struggled during the pandemic, I’ll be glad to do my small part to help support the comeback.

Well, that’s my list. I’d love to hear about what’s on your lists. Regardless, though, of whether your list of summer goals is long or short, modest or ambitious, the important thing is to take the advice of Ecclesiastes to heart over the next few months. God has given us the gift of life and all the many blessings that come with it, so let us be happy and enjoy ourselves. Otherwise, we’re not truly honoring the gift that God gives us, acting instead more like the servant in Jesus’s parable who buries his talent in the ground instead of making the most of it.

May this summer be a happy, joyful one for you! And remember: When you’re away from Charlotte on a Sunday morning, you can still join your church family for worship online thanks to the miracle of technology. Even at the beach, in the mountains, or on a road trip, Providence is now just a click away. May the peace of Christ be with you!