Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Spiritual Dog Days

As a child, I remember hearing the early days of August called the dog days.  When I asked why, the answer usually involved the heat sapping the energy of us all, days where it was too hot for dogs to even move.

I grew up in the U.S. Southeast, and it seemed to me that most days of the summer were that hot--and for that matter, much of the rest of the year.  Now I've lived at the far southern tip of the U.S., where record breaking heat is 94 degrees.  Yes, those of you in other parts of the country can laugh.  I remember those days when the temperature rose above 100 degrees(the real temperature, not the mythical heat index)--those days could last weeks.  And it saps you of everything.

We should expect to face similar times spiritually, but of course, they usually catch us by surprise, even though they happen regularly.  What to do while we wait for the heat to break?

We can take a cue from earlier generations.  When we're in spiritual dog days, we should slow down and try not to wear ourselves out.  We won't be able to accomplish as much--but it will be O.K.  Cooler weather will be here soon.

In the meantime, drink plenty of fluids.  I remember childhood summers as a time of sweet iced tea and lemonade.  What are spiritual fluids?  Scripture of course, and other books that enrich us.  Maybe music, movies, other popular culture.  Times of prayer.

Or perhaps our response to our spiritual dog days might be more aggressive.  I remember childhood trips to the beach.  Many summers we spent a week at Lutheridge, a wonderful Lutheran church camp in the mountains.  Those kind of retreats are still available to us, even if we're grown.

I remember wonderful summer evenings, with grown ups on the porch, talking about old times.  Maybe during your spiritual dog days, you want to start writing down your memories.  Resolve to write a spiritual memoir.

Even though it's hot, there are joys in the dog days:  watermelon, fireflies, cook-outs, sleepovers in the back yard, vacations.

Likewise, even when you're suffering spiritual dog days, be alert for joy.  

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