Sweet William and I have been in the desert for almost five days. Here in mid August, our central air conditioner gave up the ghost.
It happened on a Thursday evening while I was in the midst of piano lessons. I fanned vigorously and apologized to students coming into the house. The prognosis: We need a new unit which will cost a lot, and it cannot be installed until Monday.
My students where glad to be going home.
The heat rose in our normally climate-controlled house, rising to 85 degrees quickly. Even the August picture on our wall calendar looks hot.
By Friday, Sweet William and I were sweltering. And I wonder why air conditioners break down in the middle of summer? We kept looking at the thermometers placed throughout the house as the temperatures went higher. Fans were running everywhere and especially in our faces.
And for once it was too hot for coffee.
By the afternoon, with outdoor temperature soaring to 91 degrees and not much better indoors, we had enough. We got in the car where the air conditioner worked great, turning it down to 65 degrees and letting the cold winds blow. A cheeseburger at Wendy’s was our destination because if you can’t stand the heat, you get out of the kitchen.
We ate our burger in the car with the air running full blast. Then we went to Dairy Queen for Blizzards because we deserved it.
I don’t know when ice cream tasted so good. I ate until chill bumps formed on my arms.
One small window unit upstairs and a portable unit left by the heating/air company were our only means of survival. At night we closed the bedroom door, the portable unit blowing cold air into the room. We slept like it was winter, pulling a quilt over us. But upon waking and opening the door to the rest of the house, the heat hit me, and I really wondered whether morning coffee was worth it.
On Saturday, the cloud cover lowered the house temperature a small bit. We experimented with blankets and quilts in doorways hoping to keep the coolness in a smaller area of the house where it could be manageable and somewhat livable.
I was glad we had not invited anyone for brunch or dinner. They would not have wanted to come.
Each morning we emerged from the igloo of our bedroom only to be faced with the heat wave in the rest of the house. The blanketed-off living area had to cool down again by opening up the bedroom door. We lived in the desert of hot air blowing around us during the day.
We went to the deck because sometimes it felt better in fresh air. We watched dark clouds roll in a few times and hoped for rain to change the weather. Maisie lay stretched out on the cool floor more often than curled up in her bed.
We drank cold drinks and fixed sandwiches. I didn’t dare turn on the oven. The goal was to stay calm, cool, and collected as possible.
It seemed each time I went outside and returned to the house, the same words came out of my mouth. “It’s cooler outside than it is in here.”
I’m sure if we had asked friends, someone would have let us come stay with them. But when you have a dog, the equation gets complicated. And Maisie was in this with us.
As the days went by, the outdoor temperature cooled a little, and I think we began adjusting to our situation. We were going to tough this one out while we counted down the days until the new unit could be installed.
Sweet William and I prayed that we would not let our tempers flare with the flare of our heated conditions. We found ways to entertain ourselves because TV was in the hot rooms of the house. We talked more, and we laughed. I read a book aloud.
We have come through this experience with much thanksgiving and hopefully some wisdom.
While we were hot and miserable physically, what we lacked were only creature comforts. There are others on our prayer list who are suffering more. Ours was a temporary discomfort lasting a few days. It is not so for some we know and love.
Life is complicated. Minor irritations and major trauma are assured to come along in this life. We are destined for tribulation. Sometimes we have to walk through a desert, and sometimes we must weather a storm.
But we also look with hope toward an end of the trial. We want to understand the lesson to be learned and grow in endurance. We come through the trouble with a few more of our rough places sanded smooth. The chisel and hammer are brutal to the marble. But what begins to take shape is the image the creator planned.
We are like the marble. God is the artist who continues to do His good work in us, though it be painful, until the image of His Son is revealed more and more.
This short desert trip was not on my schedule; I would not have chosen it. But having made the journey, the oasis is deliciously refreshing.