. . .the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. . .”
Not an appropriate metaphor—not right now anyway. It’s too blame hot.
Two days ago I decided to take a quick trip out west before school starts and I’m pitched back into the classroom. Just two and a half hours west, the Missouri River, which has been turned into a series of reservoirs by the Corps of Engineers, winds its way north, cutting right through South and North Dakota, before moving west once again.
The Missouri Valley, gorgeous and humbling, is huge, broad, wide, and, frequently treeless. Standing alone out there, you somehow get to know your place in time and life. I wanted to get out to some out-of-the-way spot along the river and stand on a bluff at dawn, camera in hand. I did. But that has nothing to do with this line from Psalm 37.
I’m getting older—trust me, that I know—as is our car. We’ve got a sun roof, right?—and the car is white. I’m thinking I can save the old beast some wear-and-tear if, for two and a half hours, I deign the air-conditioning. Besides, all around me are myriad overweight and balding Harley lovers on their way to Sturgis for the annual million motorcycle march. What kind of man am I if I sit like a sissy in air-conditioned comfort? It’s a guy thing.
So I turned the air-conditioner off. I did.
And I almost died.
Just a few weeks ago on the plains of South Dakota, the temperature reached 115. It wasn’t that hot while I was there, but 105 is hardly mellow. The whole world looked bleached and starved. There will be no corn crop this year out there, but that’s not terribly all that unusual in central South Dakota. Fields are yellowed prematurely and sickly thin because weeks and weeks of heat often rode the back of a raspish south wind that will wither almost any living thing.
I had visions of taking photographs, but during the middle of the day it takes a pretty heavy polarizing filter to get anything but endless tawny-ness on the Plains. Out there, earth and sky meet, really—the world seems a dusty tarn in flat-out unremitting heat. On the Great Plains, there ain’t no trees, and thus no place to hide.
Heat wears you out. All along the way, my windows open, I marveled that road construction people could actually stand in that heat during the day—worse, work in it, pouring blacktop, of all things.
But I know what David means, even if, this morning, in the cool of my basement, I’m thankful to be out of the noonday sun he seems to admire.
The shoulders of the Missouri River are huge and husky, just a few rippling savannahs running memorably up their ample sides. When the noonday sun shines openly down upon its waters and those gargantuan bluffs, there are few dark corners and almost no hiding from that ball of fire.
King David’s take on that phenomenon is joy, however, because in bright sun there are no secrets and no prejudices. Righteousness shines, bare nakedly, in the wash of noonday. Everybody sees what they haven’t. They’ll all know because there it is.
There are times in everyone’s life when it’s a great thing to be out of the shadows, to be baldly open for all the world to see. That’s the promise, startling as it seems. No more repression, no more fear, no more enforced silence. God’s love creates for all of our humanness one grand out-of-the-closet noonday sun.
For the record: It wasn't 105 degrees two days ago, I'm no longer teaching, and that wonderful white Aurora became part of the pages of history long ago. In case you're wondering, Sunday Morning Meds are a series I wrote some time ago, over several years. After the world's longest winter, I think I'd love 105. Once.