Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Dog Days

I once thought “the dog days of summer” meant that it was so hot that all a person wanted to do was rest in the shade all day, like a dog. It’s really not too bad a theory considering the current heat wave. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the dog days saying arose from a Roman misunderstanding of the power of a star. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that The Book of Common Prayer utilized the Dog Days to help lead the daily devotional thoughts and prayers through the longest days of summertime. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the somewhat apocalyptic love song “The Dog Days are Over,” by Florence and the Machine, was being covered on “The Voice” and “Glee” this summer. It is all the rage, you know.

The Romans thought that the brightest star of the winter, Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major (literally the Large Dog) hid behind the sun and amplified the sun’s heat. So the Dog Star teamed up with the sun to make summers hotter. The 1552 edition of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer listed the “dog daies” extending from July 6 until August 24. The lectionary that accompanied the original King James Bible of 1611 said that the dog days were from July 6 until September 5. Today’s Farmer’s Almanac lists them as from July 3 to August 11. I think they started around June 3 this year.

So how do you live during the dog days? How do you cope with the heat and the humidity? How do you interact with your friends, your neighbors and the strangers on your path? I have a suggestion: carry some small bottles of water with you in the car (ice chest, optional), then give them away to those who might need them. Smile, share the water and bless them with Christ’s love.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Refresh a neighbor. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Today Is Under Construction

I heard essayist Sheila Bender interviewed, and she told a story about visiting a castle in Japan. During the tour, one of the areas was cordoned off for some remodeling work that day. Rather than posting a typical “closed for remodeling” sign, the entrance to the area had a creatively translated sign that read: “Today is Under Construction.” Isn’t that an intriguing thought?

My today is under construction. The minutes and the hours are the framework of my day. How I arrange the materials, spend the resources and allot the spaces of today shape the life of tomorrow. The morning, afternoon, evening and night continue without end. Today is under construction; yesterday cannot be fixed or remodeled. My decisions and choices today carry my life into all of my tomorrows. My relationships with others are the memory makers of the day. My emotions, physical and mental health, and spiritual vitality help cement the day. Or are they the wallpaper I want others to see instead of the real day I am building? There are quiet spaces, but mostly noisy places accompanying my life today. Where are the windows, the doors and the open-air places?

I am a Christian under construction today. Knocking, asking, seeking, finding; listening, stumbling, learning, climbing. Today is under construction, so bear with me if things are not quite in their proper place. I have a Master Architect and an amazing Blueprint, but apparently I am in charge of my construction project today. I wonder what would happen if I asked you to help me with my today, and if I helped you with your today? I guess that might be risky – anything could happen and someone might get hurt, but today is still under construction.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy constructing your life today. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Father Stories

Once I spent the day on a very personal, behind-the-scenes grand tour of The Miami Herald. I was being personally guided by the Grocery Advertising Representative, Hoyt Frazure, who was my grandfather. He started with the paper in 1927 and was credited with inventing the Thursday grocery ad supplement used by papers to this day. In all of my memories of him, this was the only day we spent together, just the two of us. I was about 12 years old. He and my grandmother had divorced when my mother was in high school. He and his wife, Olive, lived in far south Miami where he had planted all kinds of fruit trees. His Ponderosa lemons were as large as his grapefruit. He had orange, avocado, papaya and mango trees also. On that one day with him at the newspaper, I saw him stop the presses just for me, his only grandson. Great rolls of newsprint were threaded like ribbons through the system. Various sections of the paper were being printed simultaneously and then cut to form the actual newspaper.

A visit to the typesetter gave me my most lasting memory. In those days a “hot type” was used to provide the basis for the printing. All of the articles were entered through a Linotype machine where each word was entered by hand. An actual metal plate was created with all of the type entered in the appropriate columns. My grandfather asked the typesetter to make a line of type with my name, which he did. A few minutes later I was handed a still warm piece of metal with my name in italic and written backwards. Seeing my confusion they showed me how, when ink and pressure was applied, my name would be printed perfectly. I treasure that line of type to this day.

I remember many Sunday afternoon trips when our family traveled down to Granddad’s place. On our Father’s Day visits we would look at the trees, examine the fruit and sometimes be entertained by Olive at the piano. Before he retired from the paper he gave an extensive 10-week Sunday supplement interview where he told his stories of the early days in South Florida. It was made into a book, Memories of Old Miami, which holds for me family stories we never knew. I have a heavenly Father who did that also.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Honor the Father. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Eating Words

I seem to eat my way through the workweek—breakfast here, luncheons there, dinner somewhere else. When I am on my own for lunch, I look for local or new places to try. A few months ago, I decided to get a hamburger at a highly rated, locally owned diner I had never been to before. It was after 2:30 so there were only a couple of other people there. This is one of those places where you order your meal from the counter, then find a seat and wait to be served. The dining area is laid out in a U-shape. I seated myself when the waitress appeared and asked me to move to the other area for she had just cleaned this section and was closing it off for the day. I moved and she hooked a chain across the entrance with a metal sign that read “No Trespassing.”

Soon my meal came and I noticed that I was about the only customer. An older gentleman and his wife came in and placed their order. They looked like any well dressed senior adult couple you might see at church. He then proceeded to unhook the chain and find a table in the closed section. The waitress asked him to move, but he pretended he did not know she was there. She asked him again. This time he forcefully said, “No. I will not move. This is where I will eat.” His wife said nothing. The waitress tried one more time. He was a tall man, probably in his eighties. He stood up and proceeded to angrily call the waitress names and loudly insult her. She tried to hold her own and continued to say, “Excuse me?” She turned and walked away. His wife said nothing. A few minutes later she brought their lunches and then walked out of the restaurant. I made a mental note: Never cuss out a waitress, especially before you get your food.

A few minutes later the couple got up, replaced the chain and moved to a different table. Maybe his wife finally said something. That whole scene was so unnecessary. Maybe he was suffering from some medical problem. Having a bad day or being inconvenienced is no excuse to insult others. Abusive language and behavior are not becoming on anyone, no matter how old or well dressed they may be.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Speak kindly to others. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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