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Thought for the Week – 24th July 2022

The Heatwave

The last few days have been extraordinary with new record temperatures set and dire warnings about the dangers of excess heat. I do not think I can ever recall similar weather and my memory goes back to the summer of 1976, when we had a much longer drought but not the same intense heat. As I watched my garden bake, I was struck by the fact that there was a breeze, but this was not the friendly, cooling breeze of a normal summer, it seemed to owe more to heat storms of desert countries, further shrivelling anything in its past.

In certain films and TV programmes from the US, this would be the cue for an elder from a native American community to appear and talk about how the earth was angry. Whilst technically the earth is an inanimate object which does not feel emotion, there is poetic truth to such statements. I suppose as a vicar, I am more naturally drawn to Bible texts, which talk in plenty about the dire effects of drought and desert winds; from a time when water was not on tap for the garden or to cool down. Of course, there are parts of the world where that is still not true but we have been given at least a glimpse of what that is like. For the ancient Hebrews, drought and heat were often humbling experiences when their only option was to turn to God and plead for mercy, to look at themselves to identify what was sinful in their lives. Perhaps this theology is a bit simplistic, but as I watched the pictures of grass fires in this country destroying homes, I did feel in awe of the forces of nature, “creation” in vicar-speak, and it made me reflect on why it is important to care for it and slow global warming.
Rev David Poyner