Spirituality for Today – August 2009 – Volume 14, Issue 1

A Most Dangerous Month

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

The heat and humidity of August actually is enjoyable for some. For me, slogging through the dense, wet air and the oppressively hot temperature drains the vitality of my body and soul. Triple H days grate like sandpaper on one's sensibilities. Being uncomfortable tends to dull the processes of the mind, producing sloppy work and slothful attitudes. Often, when the air becomes a soupy haze, it rouses an irritable temperament in an otherwise peaceable individual. Crime rates soar. Urban areas suffer most from this increase in criminal behavior. People remove themselves from their hot surroundings and go outside to find a place of respite from the weather. Too often, an overindulgence in alcohol leads to violent interactions with others. Reports of rapes and aggravated assaults multiply in the month of August.

The unhealthful atmosphere uncovers a strain and pressure on the basic functioning of the average person. As if dragging a ball and chain, one struggles to accomplish ordinary tasks. An individual strives to perform his or her daily work well and would like to be recognized and appreciated for it. Instead, jealousies and infighting intensify, transforming colleagues into objects of suspicion and scorn. Charity and good will are obscured like the detail of distant hills shrouded in a heavy, humid mist.

A people of God must depend heavily on the rational and loving influence of the Divine on their daily constitution.

Escape may be found in well air-conditioned surroundings or, if one must be outside, a place in the shade with a cold drink. Ironically, refreshing the body may be the easiest area of human discomfort to be remedied. How does one keep their mental and emotional state cool? After awakening from a less than refreshing sleep, one prepares for the day as usual. The first act of awareness is to determine whether or not one is entering the world as if he or she were an exposed nerve. Knowing one's state of mind indicates the proper degree of self-discipline and amenability necessary to remain civilized during the day ahead. If possible, avoiding individuals or circumstances that have proved stressful in the past is helpful. Defusing tense situations by prudent and measured actions is always a wise course for one to pursue. One ought not to be afraid to explain to others that relating normally is difficult in this weather. Giving one's self more time to go places and to complete tasks eases the journey. One should try to be exceptionally courteous in all interactions with others. When feasible, one might secure a brief period for a mental vacation or a tranquil meditation. Also, one may decide on a reward of some sort at day's end.

Keeping cool has a spiritual component as well. Perhaps, a commitment to living a virtuous and sinless day by pondering the warning, "If you think that it's hot now, just wait." may do the trick. Most likely, factors other than Final Judgment may have to be brought to bear. The challenge necessitates the presence of that powerful agent - prayer. Although it is important to living every day, prayer is extremely significant at the beginning of a particularly trying day. Prayer has a calming effect. Even if the subject of a prayer is onerous or grave, a feeling of tranquility and assurance enters the heart and soul of the suppliant. The unfolding day may contain the predictable or the surprising. No matter what is encountered, prayer offers a compliment and an antidote to every situation.

Being ambushed by a lack of self-control is an innate fear of one trekking their way through a hot and miserable August day. The confrontation between an individual and his or her vulnerabilities is a frustrating and disheartening reality. Yet, that very recognition is a source of knowledge and thus an ally in developing internal strength. Prayer imparts a spiritual vision that aids in reading the landscape of one's soundness and one's frailties. The acquisition of a keen perception of self and of the world is a powerful weapon against the struggles of life. Any master of the martial arts will state that awareness is at the core of self-defense. At a time of trial, a keen and active state of awareness is essential. When conditions reveal that the opponent to be subdued is one's self, a prayerful person – a self-aware person – is armed best.

Eventually the steamy weight of August's atmosphere will yield to the approach of autumn. Many will have learned important lessons about themselves and others. Of course, there are those who dread the coming of winter; their distress will arrive then. The pedagogic forces of the seasons teach humanity to be attuned to the fragility of mood and motive within the human spirit. A people of God must depend heavily on the rational and loving influence of the Divine on their daily constitution. Only with the determination to do God's will are men and women equipped to make all of the months of the passing year less dangerous and more delightful.