The Dog Days of Summer

The "Big Dog" arrives in the Western Hemisphere sky.

The Scripture

Psalm 84
interpreted by Deborah

How lovely is the place where You dwell, O Lord of all creation!

My soul is weak with desire, yearning for the kingdom of the Lord; my body and soul tremble with delight in the presence of the living God.

Even the humble sparrow finds a home, and the gentle swallow a nest for herself, where she may raise her young, at Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in Your house, forever singing your praise.

Hallelujah!

Happy are they who draw their strength from You, those whose hearts follow the highway to heaven. As they go through the parched wasteland they make it a verdant garden, just as spring rains give life to the thirsty soil. They go from strength to strength; they reveal the

Eternal God in in the land of the living.

O Lord God of all creation, hear my prayer; listen to my song, O God of Jacob!

Hallelujah!

Here is our shield, O God: Your care and safekeeping.

A single day in Your presence is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather scrub floors in the house of my God than live in luxury in the palace of the wicked. For God is a sun and shield, bestowing favor and honor. God does not hold back blessings from those who follow His Way.

O Lord of all creation, happy are all those who trust in You.

Photo of a flower

Reflection by Deborah Beach Giordano
August 27, 2018

The Dog Days of Summer

hot dogWhen I was a little girl I thought that late-summer days were called “the dog days” because the hot weather makes people want to lie around and do nothing — just like our canine companions. The real reason is that around this time the constellation Canis Major (“Big Dog”) appears in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. I still think that mine is a good explanation; after all, there have been many days when stretching out on the cool kitchen floor next to Nellie has seemed like an excellent idea.

One thing the dog days definitely do is make me cranky. Just the other day I cursed my carpet cleaner because the upholstery attachment wouldn’t attach. As it turns out, my late-summer attitude maladjustment is far from unique: the ancients believed Canis Major to be an evil omen, presaging not only extreme heat, but lethargy, disagreements, disease, rabid animals, madness, and misfortune, as well. Yikes.

But doesn’t it seem strange that the arrival of the Big Dog in the sky should be equated with negativity? Dogs are known as humanity’s best friend — and if you are seeking an exemplar of the finest qualities we can hope to possess, Dog is it. Surely this season should inspire nobility of purpose, sincerity, loyalty, and love. Instead, we use it as an excuse for crabby conduct — like making threats against household appliances.

Not in our Stars….

Canis Major constellationTempting as it is to blame the stars or the pollen or the smoke or the weather for our behavior, the true cause lies much closer to home: in ourselves. We know this — even as we blame the heat or our allergies or our aches and pains; we are responsible for our actions. That doesn’t mean these things do not influence us, even provoke us, but we are not helpless victims of destiny or fate or the movements in the heavens.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…
    ~ Wm. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Yet the stars can teach us, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. Looking up on a moonless night, gazing at the uncountable bright circles in the heavens, we are struck by the great beauty — and, perhaps, overcome by great awe.

The endless night sky is a dark angel, bringing perspective: “What are humans, gracious God, that You are mindful of us?” It stretches on, apparently forever — certainly far beyond us, our problems and concerns; far past all that we know and all that we are, and all that troubles us. This is an intimation of eternity: a glorious greatness, a surpassing peace in which we are embraced, included, in which we live and move and have our being — even now, though we may be unaware of it.

Is it any wonder, then, that wise canines sing heartfelt songs of praise to the night?

howl

Dogged Determination

Which brings us back to our fur friends. And some further thoughts.

The ancient astrologers had it backwards: Canis Major isn’t an evil omen, but a bearer of glad tidings. When we are worn out and weary, the Guard Dog appears, reminding us that just as Canis Major watches over us from above, so does the Eternal guard our souls with tender, unceasing vigilance.

Wouldn’t it be grand to honor these Dog Days by striving to imitate our four-footed teachers who give so willingly of so much? Instead of fussing about the heat and humidity, it can be an opportunity to practice being more human and humane.

Pompeii guard dog

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.
    ~ James Herriot

Let’s howl!

Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,

Deborah 

Suggested Spiritual Excercise

As we seek to express our best nature, remember, too, the sense of playfulness and fun that even the most elderly dog never loses.

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
    ~ Robert Benchley

Psalm 84 ~ as told by the dog soul to Deborah

How cozy Your home is, O Divine Master!

My soul longs to be there — it pants with desire to nestle in a soft bed next to Your chair, with my favorite squeaky toy beside me, and a dish of Milkbones near by. My whole body wriggles with delight at the thought, and my soul gives forth a yelp of joy.

In Your house there are many spaces and places — lots of room for all that lives. The birds of the air rest on the rafters and shelter under the eaves, leading the singing of joyful hallelujahs to You, our God and Master.

Happiness fills the hearts of those dedicated to You, O Radiant One.

O God of Creation, we raise our voices in praise to You!

Those who trust in You, O Loving Lord, live with joy and enthusiasm — delighting in each new day. The dullest afternoon is turned into a playtime; the saddest hour is met with quiet sympathy. They go from strength to strength; and God is known through their grace-filled lives.

O Lord God of the feathered, finned, and furred, hear my prayer! O God of the people, we raise our voices in praise to You!

Look at our faces, O God, see how Your servants adore You!

One day in Your presence is better than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather lie on the mat outside Your door than on the softest sofa in the house of the wicked.

For God is light and life, care and kindness. God has given us nobility and strength, and made us little lower than the angels.

O Master of all that is good, just thinking about You makes me wag my tail!