This past week, I was asked to officiate the service of an extended family member who had served in the Navy during World War II. The service was held at the Canton National Cemetery, a beautiful place near Lake Allatoona and close to the Appalachian Foothills.
It was a blistering hot morning, and we were all breaking a sweat under the July sun. The Navy officers who were present must have been even hotter in their stiff, white uniforms. I could see the perspiration rolling down the face of one of them as he stared straight ahead, holding the corners of the American flag in his gloved hands.
The ancient expression “dog days” crossed my mind. The Greeks and Romans believed that when the Dog Star Sirius rose over their night sky in late July, the world was in for sweltering weather, war and disasters.
Well, the earth has been wobbling since then, shifting the night sky and changing when Sirius shows up in the Northern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, the association between “dog days” and “summer heat” sticks with us like damp clothes on a humid day. So, too, does the belief that war and disasters are right around the corner – at least according to the rhetoric of one prominent political candidate.
While our world is not yet the beloved community we dream about – and soldiers going off to fight oppression is still a necessary deed and noble calling – I also believe that we have more than chaos ahead. We have opportunities.
We have opportunities to listen with compassion, especially to those whose experiences and points of view are so different from ours. We have opportunities to speak, to write, to call, and to roll up our sleeves for causes that we believe in. We have opportunities to elect candidates who are dedicated, courageous, and fair-minded – and opportunities to encourage others to do the same. In short, we have opportunities to make a difference.
Our communities, nation and world need us on these hot, dog days . . . and every day. Let’s get together and see what we can do.
Rev. Terry Davis