So many thoughts. So little time. I have many half-written ideas sailing about in my head, looking for a place to harbor to rest and unload. But in the storm that summer brings, they're finding none and drifting out to the far reaches of my consciousness, hoping to set anchor another day.
Right now the number one topic of conversation is the heat. Here in the Philadelphia area it is 98 right now. Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter. Much of the country is under a sweltering blanket of blistering misery during the nation's worst heat wave in years.
I write this from the luxury of my air conditioned home and savor the respite we have from the stifling heat. But, if you're 40 or older, chances are you didn't grow up with air-conditioning. You lived with fans and shade trees and swimming pools and cold glasses of lemonade. Life was sweaty and uncomfortable, but it went on. (I didn't live in an air-conditioned house until 13 years ago!)
As I read the paper this morning I couldn't help think that when it comes to the heat, we've become a bunch of crybabies. Somehow since the beginning of time, societies survived and even thrived without air conditioning, yet now we view this modern luxury at the top of Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs along with food and water.
The issue specifically in my cross-hairs is that in order to save a substantial amount of money, Bucks County (where I live) has decided to turn off the A/C in county buildings for three hours (from 3 to 6pm) on the hottest days of the summer. The County Commissioners call it, "a shared sacrifice." The temps inside county buildings, including the prisons, are rising to about 84 degrees. (My daily thermostat is set at 80.) Complaints are coming in saying this is akin to abuse. That it's intolerable, punishing and inhumane. They say people are getting sick and fainting.
Seriously?! Three hours without air-conditioning is abusive? Have you been to Haiti or Somalia . . . or even your own inner city? A/C schmacy. The world is filled with people living without homes and food and clean water. And three hours without cooled air is insufferable? Imagine our soldiers in Afghanistan wearing full body armor in 140 degree heat, weighed down by an automatic weapon, ammo and gear. That, is a sacrifice!
In our quest for lives lived in climate-controlled comfort I fear we lose sight of the bigger picture. Of the better things. Of the truly important and valuable.
As followers of Jesus, we're supposed to live life differently. If you and I can't survive trial by summer heat, how will we survive the trials by fire? God says, "See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10) Heat burns. And refines. And makes pure and precious.
Heat is a necessary part of the process: "These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater
worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result
in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7)
And in this life it's a given: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Will we accept the refining by fire . . . or will we hunker down in air-conditioned comfort to escape the heat?
ETA 7/26/11: Last Friday was 102 degrees . . . plus humidity. It was horribly hot and I spent the day inside the air-conditioning crying like a baby!