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.