Beating the Summer Heat

Cooling off
Two children are playing in the water at a splash pad. Image is courtesy of Mojpe via Pixabay.

We are all connected by the Spirit, and we need one another.


It’s hot outside. There’s no disputing the intensity of the heat and humidity that has settled in on us in the last few days. By now, you all know that I am not a fan of excessive heat. It isn’t just that it makes me uncomfortable; it actually has an impact on my bodymind.

Because of dysautonomia, all of my autonomic systems are slow on a good day. Add in the heat and humidity and my blood pressure doesn’t keep up. I feel a bit sluggish and can easily become lightheaded when I stand up too fast. As a result, I’m going nowhere in a hurry. Slowly and intentionally, sure. Not quickly, though.

As my bodymind responds poorly to the heat, I find myself thinking that a heat wave is a great metaphor for spiritual sluggishness. Sometimes we are reluctant to engage with the world around us. We feel a bit foggy or tired. We need rest. We need something to beat the metaphoric heat.

When we are talking about literal heat, we can all find ways to cool off. Everything from cold drinks to a swim in a lake or pool. I’ve seen a lot of creative ways to get through these hot and humid days.

However, when it comes to a more spiritual heat and humidity, we tend to give in rather than find a way to “beat the heat.” Stress, fear, despair and more can make us believe we need to disengage, drop out of things, keep to ourselves.

While taking rest when we need it is important and healthy, the kind of malaise that leads us to want to isolate ourselves doesn’t usually lead to healthy rest. Usually, these kinds of feelings grow bigger when we distance ourselves from friends and community. When we are least inclined to reach out to those we love (or to gather for worship), is likely when we need to the most.

If you are experiencing a spiritual heat wave as well as this physical one, I encourage you to be as creative in beating the heat spiritually as you can be physically. There are countless ways to connect with folx – text, call, message, email, Zoom, face-to-face, etc.

When you are pouring yourself a glass of ice cold water, perhaps pour two and invite a friend to share with. When the weather becomes uncomfortably hot, inside or out, it’s important to remember that we are all connected and that we need one another.

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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4 thoughts on “Beating the Summer Heat”

  1. I find myself slowing down more with the heat — to rest, take a drink, cool off. I’m trying to use that time to watch nature in the garden and reflect on life.

    I keep coming back to 2 questions:
    Where did the time go that I have lived so many years?
    What can I do today to make the part of the world I influence a better place to live?

    Living Table community and the study and worship times inspire me.

    • Sandy, if you ever figure out the answer to the first question, please share! And I wish more people would spend some time each day with your second question.

  2. Interesting reflection, Rachael…and I tend to proceed pretty much the same whether it’s hot outside or cold, and whatever my internal “spiritual temperature” is. In my long years of recovery and spiritual practice, what I know is: doing what I need to do to maintain reasonable mind/body/spirit equilibrium is important. I don’t mean to sound smug about it, because by no means am I perfect at it!–the phrase I encounter in recovery literature is “progress, not perfection.”

    Just yesterday I was in a dark mood in the morning. I woke up after troubling dreams with a “who gives a s**t” attitude, and pretty sure I was a complete disappointment to all. But I stuck to my practice–journaled, had a healthy breakfast, went for a good long walk down to our lake and back, then had lunch with Stuart out at the table in our backyard…and strangely enough, my mood changed. By the time we walked down the street in the evening to go to our neighborhood’s National Night Out gathering, I was behaving like a decent human being and wondering “Who was that crabapple from the morning?”

    God have mercy!

  3. Doug,
    Thank you for your thoughtful reflection. I agree that engaging in “regular” spiritual practice no matter our state of being is probably the best practice, if at all possible. For many of us, though, just taking a few minutes and asking ourselves what we need to restore balance, can be very helpful, especially if we don’t have a routine practice.
    I’m glad you were able to go on and enjoy your day in spite of the way it started.


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