This summer many parts of the United States and elsewhere around the world have been dealing with unusual heat because of the weather and a different kind of heat generated by families living and working at home during the pandemic.

Last month, Sister Joan Chittister wrote:

"It's July when the summer begins to wear even the most dedicated of sun lovers down. Life begins to feel sticky; nights get close; days get long and dry. Everything becomes a major effort: we slow down like rusted bogs on old wheels. Time suspends. Nothing much gets done. Day follows day with not much to show for any of them."

Monastics, she reminded us in her monthly newsletter Vision and Viewpoint, have dealt with this oppressive weather in their attempts to cope with "the devil of the noonday sun" and "acedia" which was manifested as "spiritual sloth." And then she adds, "The question in every life, of course, is how to keep going when going on seems fruitless."

We at Spirituality & Practice have put together a wide and practical selection of practices to help you keep going in summertime. There's still a month of summer left, so here are a month's worth of practices.

Meanwhile our friends Tessa Bielecki and David Denny from The Desert Foundation in Cortaro, Arizona, keep in touch through their biannual newsletter Caravans. They lead "an informal circle of friends exploring the spirit of the desert, landscape and soulscape, including the inner desert of loss and grief. We encourage peace and reconciliation between the three Abrahamic traditions, which grow out of the desert: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam."

The Desert Foundation is 15 years old and in their summer newsletter, David and Tessa write about "Coming Home to Quarantine" where they each discuss practices which have enabled them to handle isolation, black hours, working well without worry and fear, breaking the pattern of the day with poetry and play, and honoring the Sabbath. (Check out the e-course on The Wisdom of the Christian Mystics Tessa will be doing with Carl McColman in November at Spirituality & Practice.)

More items that have caught my attention this month:

* The extreme weather this summer is a stark reminder that climate change is real and having dire effects around the globe. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an extremely active hurricane season. Glaciers are collapsing in Alaska, the Arctic, and Antarctica. And researchers have stated that by century's end, polar bears worldwide could become extinct. Right now, there are only 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic.

* One of the many ironic twists of the pandemic is that millions of wild animals have been spared death as roadkill. The number of vehicles on the road has plunged by as much as 70 percent. The Washington Post states that a report by the University of California predicts that as many as 200 million out of the one billion animals killed annually by vehicles could survive because of the coronavirus.

* Wendell Barry once said, "I don't think it is enough appreciated how much an outdoor book the Bible is. It is a 'hypaethral book' such as Thoreau talked about - -a book open to the sky. It is best read and understood outdoors, and the farther outdoors the better. Or that has been my experience of it." In an article on The Conversation, Jeffrey Wheatley talks about how congregations due to restrictions of the pandemic have turned to outdoor worship in parking lots and green spaces. During the 18th and 19th centuries, evangelical groups presented "revival" services outdoors while other groups took worship outside to emphasize a mystical relationship with nature. It will be interesting to see what other kind of spaces creative worship curators will come up with in the future. The key question is whether the terms “church,” “mosque,” “temple” or “synagogue” describe a building or a community.

* Whether due to irritation with the weather or fear, frustration, and grief because of the pandemic, you may have some negative energy to deal with. Here's a spiritual practice I've found useful.

"Stand up and put your palms together, fingertips pointing down. Rub your hands together for two minutes, imagining the negative energy leaving your body through your fingertips and going into the ground. Afterward you'll feel more energized."
-- Susanna Seton and Sondra Kornblatt in 365 Energy Boosters

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