Bishop Will Willimon penned the phrase The Dog Days of Pentecost and I first read it in a wonderful collection of his devotions published in On a Wild and Windy Mountain. With the drought of 2011, the phrase should make a comeback.
This grueling season is endless and monotonous, and hot! For those churches which observe the church seasons, the season after Pentecost takes us from mild spring days and nights through Christ the King, the culmination of the Christian calendar, which is usually a Sunday in late November. In between are the dog days and the time called "ordinary." We take what respite we can find in summer vacations, holidays, camps, reunions, back to school preparations, and lots of air conditioning!
Whenever we're stuck and not moving in the spiritual life, the season is one of dog days, regardless of the time of year. You are listless, lifeless, and, like the diminishing water tables, we too maybe drained of reserves. We may struggle to sustain the pace we have set. And praying itself seems more like a good idea than a reality. Too, self-care sounds like a great idea, but most of us really don't give it a thought until we're confronted with the drought of spirit that comes with running on empty for too long.
What's the "cure" for the dog days of the spirit? When the traveler prayed "I lift my eyes to the hills," the words were about the dangers and difficulties of the pilgrimage ahead. (Psalm 121:1) Asking about the source of our strength for the trip may be the best move we could make, because the response to that question is "My help is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121: 2)
Surely, there are times to smell the roses, and to take advantage of the respites on the journey. If you have a friend like Spartan the Border Collie, you know how exciting the simple mention of WALK is for canine pals. He is always up for a walk, morning, day, or night. Having that spunk and sense of adventure is a priceless gift.
As long as we focus on the mechanics of the journey, we may become blind to the One who companions us. The Lord who made heaven and earth is the reason we walk in the first place. And the movement to God cannot be made without God.