Monday, August 1, 2011

A New Month But What a Month

Years ago I saw a cartoon of our friend Garfield who said "February is the Monday of months" meaning that it is a month that people dread coming because of the darkness of it and the extreme cold that it brings with it in some parts of the world.  I guess if you live in the South as we do, then February is not as extreme as in the other parts of the U.S. but if I were to compare a month with what most of us think of Monday, I would pick August instead.  It is the Monday of the months to me.

I have never especially enjoyed or liked August.  Yes, I know that many people have a birthday in August (including my dear old Dad who now celebrates his birthday every August 17 in heaven) and some have wedding anniversaries in August and maybe some even take vacations in August so they look forward to it all year long.  August in Texas, however, is the long, hot month that we must survive if we want to feel the cool air of autumn that may come later in September.  August was always the most boring month too when I was growing up because school would begin late in the month and we could not stray too far from home since we had to prepare for school to begin.  So, long hot summer days were spent wishing it were not August and dreading the beginning of school which would come along soon enough.

I no longer attend school and have to prepare for it and do not have children or grandchildren who must be in preparation mode for school so August is simply a month to endure while we wait for September to arrive.  I wish I could find something pleasant to report about August but I have to tell you that I am part of the August-haters club.  I simply wish it did not exist and we could just go from July straight to September and bring in autumn one month sooner.  Maybe it is not August that I hate but the heat of summer.  Perhaps if I lived in the cool Rocky Mountains or along the coast of Washington state where the temperatures in the summer are moderate or even pleasant, then I would welcome long lazy August days so I could enjoy every moment of them.  I may just have to move to one of those places when I retire from work and enjoy all that the residents of those places seem to have to enjoy in August.  For now, though, it is a matter of simple endurance.  Can I hang on through the month and come out on the other side of it to bring September to reality? 

What a very sad outlook on life is that, huh?  Shouldn't we enjoy every day as a gift and treasure every moment?  I guess I really do but I like to be comfortable when I am enjoying and treasuring and not baking in the oven we call Texas.  If I had the freedom to escape the Texas heat and run away to one of those forementioned places, perhaps I would feel great about the August state of mind I would have.  I know that I can do nothing about the current circumstances though so what can I do to try to enjoy August in Texas while I wait for September to come (and not waste 1/12 of my life every year)?  Perhaps I can try to echo the words of the writer who said, "I have learned to be content in whatever state I find myself in."  When he said "state" he did not mean what I want it to me.  I could learn to be content in another state that is more comfortable than in my current one, for sure.  I think he meant, to be content in whatever circumstances one finds oneself in.  That takes a lot of courage and commitment because we most often do not want our circumstances if they are not to our liking.  We want them to be different and now. 

Finding contentment is an internal exercise and not dependent upon the circumstances surrounding oneself.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned by the Nazis for his part in the plot to overthrow the Third Reich.  He was imprisoned and finally hung along with others.  During the time of his imprisonment he wrote some of the most meaningful and inspirational writings of his pastoral career.  Despite his confinement and the threat of his death, he found the inner strength to share his thoughts that are resources to modern Christians today.  Perhaps he saw his circumstances as being things he had no control over and gave ultimate control to the One in whose hands he knew he belonged.  When we attempt to be in control of our lives, we will only find exasperation but when we yield control to a power higher than ourselves, we will find the freedom we have always searched for. 

August will always be August and I will not enjoy the heat that comes with it as long as I live in Texas.  Since I am in Texas for the foreseeable future, and who knows maybe the rest of my life, I guess I should learn to "live with it" and maybe even "enjoy it" in some way.  Perhaps August could be a blessing to me instead of the curse that I see in it when my line of vision is changed.  I have many blessings that exist regardless of the month on the calendar.  Considering them instead of what I want changed may make all the difference.   

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