I am no fan of heat and humidity. This is a combination that only gives misery and discomfort. Indeed, many people who like the outdoors dread this time of year because of temperatures in the nineties with enough humidity that it really feels as if it is 100+ degrees. I remember one weatherman called this “humature.”
Hiking in the early morning, or very late evening are the best ways to enjoy the natural world in such conditions. A mid-day hike during a heat advisory is foolhardy, even if one takes sufficient hydration. To avoid hiking altogether during the summer is to cheat one’s self of one of the finest phases of the year with its lush greens and fragrant scents. As said in the old Negro spiritual, “trouble don’t last always,” neither do 90+ degree temperatures and “humatures.” If we make our way around the heat and humidity, being outdoors in the summer is a liberating and refreshing experience.
As in the rest of the South, slavery was a cruel and harsh existence for African-Americans in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina. A handful of bondsmen, led by Nat Turner, took up arms in rebellion against their lot. They failed and he was hanged. But to remain a slave was not acceptable and death seemed preferable. A couple of them ran away from their plantations to the inhospitable Dismal Swamp. In the midst of the bears, mosquitoes, snakes and wetland; they found freedom. Slave patrollers figured that any Negro that went into the swamp would die there. But, they didn’t. Eventually, other runaways came there. Over time, these African-Americans created a community of Maroons that lived and thrived in spite of antebellum America giving in to neither being slaves nor rebelling with arms.
Our Lord would rise up early in the morning and go to lonely places to pray (Mark 1:35). By doing this, Jesus could focus on His purpose and continue his work (vv. 38, 39). He would also separate Himself from the crowds, including friends in the late evening (6:45, 46). Afterward, Jesus did what seemed impossible and gave comfort to the fearful in their darkest hour (vv. 48-51). Of course our Lord prayed in temples, taught with great authority, and did wonderful miracles whenever and wherever. But, we have been given an example of when to seek God where we can be alone; mountains and lonely places in the morning and evening.
Once when the faith became legalized in the fourth century, many people became Christians with worldly and wrong motives. Churches became numerous and filled in nearly every city and town. This bothered some of the most faithful believers. Among them was an African named Pachomius. He and other Desert Fathers saw that staying in the “world” was spiritual suicide. But, to live in harsh seclusion alone, such as Anthony the Great, was not for everyone. So, Pachomius gathered together likeminded men and developed the first Christian monasteries with a shared rule of prayer and worship. He avoided the extremes and found how and where he and others could meet God.
Do not let the harshness of life keep you from the freedom to unite with God. Avoid the traps on the left and right. There is a place to meet the Lord beyond the extremes most readily seen and surrendered to in the world. Hike in the morning, if possible, when the temperature is at its coolest point. Go for a walk, if you can, as the sun is not beaming down on you. Don’t give in to waiting until the fall to get outdoors. Don’t go out during heat advisories and the middle of the day if you can help it. If that’s the only time available, don’t move too much nor too quickly for too long. And drink plenty of fluids. Find your path.