There is an old saying in my parents’ Italian dialect that referred to August as the “head of winter”. For a rural, agrarian society, the meaning was clear. August was the time when preparations began for the coming winter months, to ensure that everything was ready. The first chore was to accumulate firewood that was needed to keep the kitchen fire burning all winter long. Many other preparations followed.
In our modern, urban world, we consider August the apex of the “lazy days of summer.” Ordinarily, these weeks saw many of us take our summer vacations, do some work around the house or simply relax from the frantic pace of life before the start of a new school year. I think it is fair to say that the winter would ordinarily be far from all of our minds.
This year, however, things may be different. In fact, the decisions that you and I now make regarding how to respond to the pandemic will have a profound impact on the shape of the upcoming fall and winter months. The lazy days of summer should not be an excuse for anyone to drop their guard or relax their vigilance against the many ways in which the virus can be transmitted. We must always keep in mind the grave consequences that will result if we disregard the future effects of the actions we take right now.
The safety measures we have been asked to observe are not designed solely to keep us safe. They are also primarily focused on keeping our neighbor safe, especially the vulnerable in our midst, which is a mandate that flows from our Christian belief in the sanctity of all human life.
So it seems to me that past generations have an important lesson to teach us this summer. August is clearly at the “head of winter”, setting the stage for the autumn and winter months ahead. Let us do what is required of us with cheerful hearts. For to do otherwise will guarantee for all of us a long, cold, and bitter winter.
The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.