In my festering childhood, I loved the summer! You could spend almost all of the time outdoors. As a matter of fact, parents would push us out the door if we stayed in. Shoes were optional. Even in the stores. If you didn’t get hot and sweaty and then cool yourself off with a spray from the garden hose, the day was not quite right. When the sun would go down, and it would finally get dark, we would watch the fireflies- lightning bugs we called them- blinking through the night. Kids in Inman would search through the night for the mythical lightning bug hive, a place that would glow all night because of the number of fireflies there.
We slept with windows open and maybe a fan in the window to cool things off, or took blankets out in the back yard and “camped out” behind the house. Ancient communities used to dance around the fire at this time of the year, believing this special day to be one where the wall between heaven and earth became very thin. In the late night cool air we could somehow feel the breath of God blowing on us.
This year we need the breath of God to blow on us again. To cool our fevered brows, reawaken our joy in everyday life, remove the heat, and let us enjoy the light. I see the light of God in the forgiveness offered by the families of the Charleston shooting victims. I feel the breath of God in the prayers offered by so many. I see the fire of God in those who call out for us to remove the symbols of hate and division in our land.
But I see heat without light in so many, too. Those who blame the victims. Those who want to further divide people. Those who want use violence as a way to end violence. Even Jesus did not do that, though he could (see Matthew 26:47-53).
As the day is brighter, I pray for more light in my soul, for more fire in my heart, and for the breath of God to blow through me.
Today I found myself singing an old hymn that we kids used to sing while lying on the blankets at night. We would sing the only three songs we knew- starting with Elvis Presley’s “You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog,”, and ending with Sheb Wooley’s “One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater.” Between the two we would sing “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.”
O God, today we need a place to rest from the burning of the noon-tide heat, and the burden of the day.