Sun, barbecues and avoiding a Derry tan

At this time of year when the sun makes a brief appearance people often go mad.

At this time of year when the sun makes a brief appearance people often go mad.

After three days of sunshine you can see the sun worshippers creep about like zombies or mummies. You need sunglasses even to look at these people who seem to be burning up. Women and men living life in slow motion as very step or movement causes their bodies immense pain. I was never one for lying in the sun as even the slightest glimpse of the sun’s rays transforms my ever expanding forehead into a billboard of red and deepening purple. Of course, last week when I was out and about walking, I forgot to wear a cap or hat. With the thatch on top becoming an endangered species I usually resort to a baseball cap to protect my scalp from becoming a solar panel. Yet these days a simple hat isn’t big enough for the job of protecting my balding head. As a result, I would need to walk about with my own gazebo to provide enough cover for my head, otherwise I’d be the colour of Mr Blobby.

People can be tempted to go daft the minute the temperature approaches the high teens. Many a Derry male will think it’s a brilliant idea to go topless. Of course, passing drivers are blinded by the unexpected dazzling reflection of these milk white torsos which stand in contrast to the red arms, necks and heads, otherwise known as the Derry tan. Derry females can be spotted laid out in gardens or driveways. Following the sun, they complete a circuit of the house throughout the course of the day.

If locals haven’t suffered enough through the effects of sunburn, then food poisoning is the icing on the cake as barbecues make their annual appearance. Then, all the expert chefs who never venture near a kitchen the rest of the year are ready to begin. Before the rain puts out the fire these chefs manage to cremate everything they were cooking and burn themselves as well.

Everywhere we look we can notice the effects of the sun, the impact it has made on people’s lives. Regardless of the physical consequences of the sun, the good weather puts most people in better form. As Christians we might ask whether the gift of the Holy Spirit is reflected in our lives in a similar manner, can people recognise the marks of our faith? Until the disciples had received the gift of the Spirit they were locked away alone and afraid. When Jesus breathed on them, literally empowering them with his life breath, everything changes as the disciples are transformed. It is in what the followers of Jesus do next which provides evidence for the presence of the Spirit in the Church. The disciples are able to reveal Jesus to the nations through the way they live their lives. Everyone has been given gifts of the Holy Spirit, what is important is how we use these gifts to build up the Kingdom of God. To live in the Spirit means to be kind, generous, forgiving and patient enough to recognise Jesus in the faces of both neighbours and strangers.