Everyone knows that we need to get our outside work done early in the day, because by noon it will be up to a hundred, and will go up from there the rest of the afternoon. We know to be sure the animals have plenty of water, and to water our gardens twice. It's so hot the tomatoes and cucumbers won't make flowers or set on new fruit. People are more relaxed and informal with one another, since after all, we can't wear nylons or slips or layered jackets. We have less to hide, though of course we still preserve decency. There is almost a sense of suspension from time.
Yesterday I went to a funeral in Dodge City. It was for a priest in our Diocese of Western Kansas who had suddenly died after what had appeared to be a successful fight against cancer. He had undergone a bone marrow transplant and all that that entails, and had seemed to be in remission. But within one day he went to hospital, hospice, and was gone. Another seminarian and I and his wife went together. Since we are neither clergy nor laity, our place is to be there, quiet, and in the back row, participating silently, listening to what the Holy Spirit has to teach us and attending to those we see who need help but whose clergy cannot help them right now because they are weeping for the loss of their friend and brother. I found myself with my arms around a young woman who had been a stranger to me, but who now is a sister. There was a quiet and deeply moving outpouring of love for this man who had given his life to God's service, and of trust in our Lord who has taken him into his arms. People in this family of Christ were united in love, grief and faith. This requiem was truly an occasion for giving ourselves unquestioningly into the mystery of God's plan, while being sustained by the love of the faithful we know in this world. I am truly blessed to part of this family.
Driving home, the light was so bright that the sky was bleached. The cattle were black lumps in the deep shade, and the road ahead shimmered with mirages.