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April 27, 2014

i don't know hot

It's hot here. My hand touches down on the dry watermelon skins at the vegetable stand; they feel unappetizingly warm. Damp burlap bags cover shallow woven baskets of cucumbers, okra and green peppers, in an attempt to keep them cool. The shop door is rolled halfway down to block the sun from hitting his produce; my head nearly collides with the low door. Everything's a little wilted here, including humans. During this season, after you try to do something, you end up not wanting to do much of anything.

It's hot here. Driving by a row of roadside shacks, I see a group of ladies chatting in the shadows of their makeshift dwellings; one of them seems to be commanding the attention of the rest. A half-clad, dark-skinned man sits in a large steel basin and splashes water over his head with a steel bowl. A dirty child licks a lime-green popsicle. In these eletricity-less homes, shade and water—and maybe popsicle vendorsare the only saviours on days when the temperatures are above 40°C.

It's hot here. The warm 5:00pm air kicks a slight breeze through the police office where I sit. It lifts the wall calendars, which bump lazily against the wall. Lazy, like all of us, in this heat. One of the calendars has the monkey god prominently on display. He's large, princely... and hairy. The other calendar has smaller graphics on holiday dates. One day is marked with a god with a blue countenance; another is labeled with a god with a marble face and pointy, kohl-lined eyes. But on the eighteenth square of this month, there is no god and no face. There are just two rough wooden posts, crossed, and draped with a fluttering strip of white linen.

The monkey calendar taps the wall, again.
The fan swirls and clicks, again.
The official checks my paperwork, again.
I wonder if the policeman knows what that faceless holiday graphic represents. "The word is near you..." but it is not "in your mouth and in your heart." There are small clues for the curious; it's on the April calendar, in the theatre, in a bookstore or two....

It was hot there. When fiery justice fell on His human body. When warm blood spilled from redemptive wounds. There was a God and there were faces there, though the calendar doesn't show them. One face crying out in anguish ("Why have You forsaken me?") and One face turned away.

Rebuked, I realize that I don't know hot. The face of the Father is turned toward me in soothing grace, because that day, on the two wooden posts, He turned His face away from His Son. He poured the heat of my transgressions on His Son, so I could stand in the shadow cast by His cross. So I would not know hot.

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