severe weather alert

I want to tell you about heat. Relentless, intense, scorching heat. It makes a person feel differently about the world somehow. Every day, we wake up to a movement in the air that feels like a relief. Not because it is cool, but because it carries hope that cool may return some day. The air that rolls towards us is already warm in the early morning, but it is not yet as hot as it will be later. We open the blinds and windows to let in whatever freshness this day brings, and in just an hour or two those same blinds will be closed against the sun’s brightness. At around that time, the air will become still and begin to hold onto the heat, which grows throughout the afternoon into a sort of furnace that dissipates only in the middle of the coming night.

This kind of heat dictates our days. The mornings is the only time one feels like doing anything that requires movement or energy. This is not a time for sleeping, the feeling of wasting precious hours of bearable temperatures is too great. Later, the house will be closed up against the onslaught of heat, fans whirring, air-conditioners chugging in their effort to keep us cool. Any outings leave us sweating, breathing shallow breaths against the hot air, moving as quickly as possible from one air-conditioned space to another, stealth-agents in a world humming with heat waves. 

it's enough to drive me to prayer ...

I feel a sort of quiet desperation as I watch the landscape become increasingly brown. Many days, we head out to find places to swim in lakes and reservoirs nearby. Every place we go the water level is shockingly low, revealing rocky shorelines or creating great desert valleys that were once underwater. The countryside is sucked dry of all moisture, desiccated, a constant reminder of the need for rain, a felt sense of perpetual threat that any rain that does come will be insufficient against this great need. It’s enough to drive me to prayer, the sort of Lord-have-mercy prayer that my lips form of their own volition many times each day.

I wonder about this. About all the people who live in intense physical environments, on the edge of huge desert spaces south of us, most of them without air-conditioning or even cold showers. There are villages that are literally drying up. Last week we met with a number of friends living in such desert places. We talked of those who have been imprisoned, deported, or only recently released after being held hostage. We spoke of daughters receiving therapy after years of living in places where they didn’t feel safe. The unrelenting heat of such experiences combined with the heat of the environment - I wonder what it does to one’s sense of the world, to the way one prays or thinks about the future? It feels to me that it increases one’s sense of urgency about the needs all around us. It is certainly a daily reminder of our smallness when set against the vast forces of the universe, it puts our sense of control into perspective, makes prayer more necessary somehow.

a place of springs, even here

In this place of deep connection to our need for water, I wonder what it means to cultivate a place of springs? How does the landscape inform our prayerfulness, and keep us connected to our longing for God’s refreshing? As we consider the property we have chosen for the Place of Springs ministry house, we are sobered by the need to learn how to harvest and distribute water in this dry place. We often talk of the well on the property, and how much we hope that it is a reliable water source. Looking out at the dried up landscape, which is still beautiful in its own way, it feels almost laughable to think that this location could sustain a place of springs or that we could cultivate such a place. And yet, isn’t that the point?

In the intensity of this season in our own lives, we have found ourselves drilling down ever deeper to find the sustaining waters of God-life that run below the reality of our life’s circumstances. To what extent can this source be experienced as reliable when life on the surface of things feels so hot, so drying, so relentless in its intensity? Daily we come to the well and daily we find water. Daily the heat intensifies, daily we move through it. ‘Blessed are those whose strength is in God … as they pass through the Valley, they make it a place of springs.’

We pass through this summer heat, as we pass through the places in our lives that feel most dry, most overwhelming. It is as we pass through that we find life-giving waters that never fail.