August Dog Days

Sirius, or Alpha Canis Majoris, the dog star, in the constellation Canis Majoris, rises at dawn in late July and continues to do so in these northern latitudes into the middle of August. The brightest star in the sky, it gives its name to the hot, sticky and uncomfortably heavy weather such as we have been having of late: The Dog Days of August. The Greeks and Romans thought it was the star itself that brought the heat, and with it the scourges of drought, disease, and war. They associated the rising of Sirius with the onset of, at the very least, a lethargic, grumbling spirit in the world, and at the worst a kind of madness in dogs and humans alike.

And indeed, the wide world has known in these summer days the unrelenting surges of pandemic disease, dangerous droughts and fires, and the madness of humans with guns and other weapons, along with a whole lot of grumbling. The humans seem to have been driven more or less wild by these dog days, although the dogs, mercifully, seem to have escaped.

But here at Oranbega even on the hottest days we have felt a breeze coming to us through the willows on the riverbank, a breeze picked up and wafted gently through our rooms by the big ceiling fans the previous owner was wise enough to install. (Some of his other choices were not so wise, but that’s another story.) Also wafting through the rooms recently have been such pleasant things as Ed Cherry’s jazz guitar riffs, and the murmurs of retreatants chiming in together with the responses to Evening Prayer. Yes, while there is peace at Oranbega, there is no lethargy, as the Retreat Center at last begins to live into its mission. This summer we have housed an artist, a poet and memoirist, musicians and spiritual seekers, and there are more on the way for the late summer and fall. The Dog Days will be over soon. The world, we hope, will go back to being more sane, stable, and perhaps a little cooler. Some rain would be good, and a resurgence of sanity more than welcome, as everyone remembers that vaccinating and boosting is for the good of the whole people not just an exercise in self-protection. At Oranbega we will continue our goal of engaging ourselves and others in restful creativity and the vitality of peace. And I might just get myself a dog.