As we approach the hottest days of summer,
our thoughts turn to some relief.
Temperatures are hitting three digits.
We seek relief with cool drinks,
a swim, or basking in a cool breeze…even air conditioning.
We protect ourselves from the brilliant sun
and find ways to enjoy some leisure.
Some of us take vacations that provide us
with opportunities to relax and feel slower rhythms.
As Americans we get our motors running
and hit the road in our annual quest
to view the handiwork of God’s world.
It is a time for stretching boundaries,
expanding the envelope, and exploring.
Nature sets the pace…long dusks,
the gradual onset of the evening crickets
and the slow movement of constellations across the night sky.
Below this dynamic surface of summer,
a more subtle experience awaits us…
if we can just slow down to find it.
Night is a time of deep listening…
night birds calling to each other,
songs of frogs echoing, and cicadas with their steady rhythm…
all can soothe the injustices of the day’s heat.
The soul feels like it is on a sacred journey.
Moments in the fire can be golden and holy.
Visions are burned into our soul.
The great mentors understand that this can be a dangerous time.
All these fiery experiences have to be gathered
and brought to the community…to the elders…
in order to enrich and renew the life of society or the church.
We must do this in order to survive our desires and selfishness.
Either the fires we experience will lead us to life or death.
This is a time where we are mobile, reckless, and passionate…
and we need the elders, the mentors…
to steady us and give us grounding.
We need wisdom in this journey.
One part of us demands that we move forward,
while another side
(which is more difficult to hear and realizes our limits,)
is patient and intelligent in “the paths we should walk.”
We need the inflation from the rising temperatures
like bread being baked…
yet we need coolness to keep from burning up.
Just as we learned in the deep, winter journey that we need fire,
so here in the summer journey, we need the coolness of water.
Soul-work is about the process of heating up
and cooling and heating up again and cooling.
The great blacksmiths understood this
when forging the invincible swords…the process of tempering.
If we refuse this process,
we remain brittle and break into pieces.
Tempering forges metal into strength and character.
So it is in soul-work.
The Holy Spirit tempers our souls,
forging the wonder of character;
He shepherds, gathers, carries, and leads us in the tempering process.
The journey’s of soul in winter and summer
leave deep impressions upon our lives.
“Who among the gods is like You, O Lord?
Who is like You…
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory, working wonders” (Exodus 15:11)?
“He tends His flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms and
carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11).