Friday, April 26, 2013

Grateful Coolness in the Heat

a bubbling fountain in the town square near my retreat house

At the end of April it really starts to heat up in the desert. Temperatures have been in the high 90's this week, and tomorrow it's supposed to hit the triple digits and remain that way for some time. 

I have often been asked why I would possibly want to live in a place where the heat got so intense. But the fact is, even in the triple digits, i's not so bad.

 For one thing, it's very dry here - no humidity, and so the heat is not so oppressive. And on top of that, beside the air conditioning, there are "misters" and fountains everywhere. 

I love sitting outdoors at a restaurant under the shelter of a porch,  even in the noonday heat. You see,  all the restaurants out here come equipped with cool, refreshing mist which sprays from little water spigots in the the ceilings and along the walls.  So as you sit and sip a cool drink or eat a meal, you are constantly refreshed by a gentle, cooling mist. It's quite wonderful.

And then there are the fountains. We have several fountains at the retreat house,  and when we go into town there are public fountains in every possible nook and cranny of the little city of La Quinta. 

The fountain in today's post is one of my favorites. You can sit on a bench under a shade tree, look at the flowing water, listen to the bubbling sounds, and it just makes you feel cool.

The other day as I sat in front of this fountain in the 98 degree heat, I was reminded of a "Holy Spirit" hymn that comes out of the ancient Christian tradition.

Many Christian hymns and prayers depict God very anthropomorphically. God is pictured as a man in the distance - up there and out there. God is a Heavenly Father or perhaps a daunting judge - sitting on a throne looking down on his creatures below. 

But,  of course, God is none of the above.  These are simply images to help grasp something of the great mystery we call God. And, for me, these particular images are not all that helpful at all.

The ancient "HolySpirit" hymn I remembered while sitting at that fountain imagined God in a decidedly different way.

In our labors You are rest most sweet.
You are grateful coolness in the heat 

God is not a man out there and up there - at a distance. God is an abiding presence. God is "rest" in our labors. God is "coolness" in the heat of life.  

How refreshing!

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