Betcha I don’t have to remind you that we are in the midst of the thermal ‘dog days’ of summer. It is often thought that the term refers to the seasonal heating blanket we find ourselves gasping and groaning beneath when, in actuality, the phrase refers to something going on in the heavenlies. On July 3 every year, just like clockwork, Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, defers its showmanship and rises and sets with our solar system’s true Star, giving it top billing. Eight and a half light-years from earth, the bluish-white “Dog Star” virtually disappears as it no longer stands out through the eventide but rather gets lost in the Sun!
The ancient Romans were so impressed by the greatness of the light in the night sky they thought the earth received its heat from this, the largest star in Canis Major. But in early July, Sirius gracefully bows and ‘virtually’ removes itself, giving obeisance to the Sun. This phenomenon lasts through early September when the focus is almost entirely on our day’s Bright Orb. We speak of “Fun in the Sun” and look forward to “soaking up the Sun” and express our need to “get some Sun” all the while romping to summer’s theme song, “Here Comes the Sun!”
Webster gives another definition to the “dog days” of summer, referring to them as a period of inactivity and stagnation. Somehow that rings hollow when you consider these red-letter events in history–all of them occurring in this stamina-pilfering season of sweat:
- This week in 1697, Isaac Newton published his tome, “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” which explored new realms in mathematics
- This week in 1817, construction on the Erie Canal began at Rome (New York)
- In 1863, General Ulysses Grant captured Vicksburg
- In 1885, William Booth founded the Christian Mission, later renamed the Salvation Army
- In the dog days of 1890, Idaho was admitted as the 43rd State in the Union
- In 1917, T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) took Aqaba from the Turks
- In 1950, the Israeli government passed the “Law of Return”, giving all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel
- During this week in 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- This week, 2004, the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower was laid in NYC
So tomorrow, when you wipe beads of moisture from your brow or swoon beneath the weight of summer’s scirocco, open yourself to the Lord to do something through you that requires no strength of your own. It is when we become as nothing (Mark 10:42-45; John 15:5; Galatians 6:3) that the Son shines through you. After all, nobody speaks of heat and light coming off Sirius, but everyone draws Life from the Son.
And tomorrow, as you rise to start your day, do your rising with the Son and be so lost in Him that others will wonder where you went…oh sure, continue to illuminate a dark night but be Sirius…get Lost in the Sun!