Enjoy God's creation a little more during this season of light
Columnist Emily Carson says summer and its warm days full of light have long held spiritual significance for people.
The fragrant lilacs withered into brown crumbles, and then the peonies bid adieu as their bright magenta petals faded and fell to the ground. The conclusion of these springtime flowers signaled that a seasonal transition was close at hand.
Then, right on cue, the first sunflower started peeking open a few days ago. Several calendula varieties are also in full bloom radiating oranges, creams and yellows. Tomatoes are starting to form on hearty stems, and the gourd vines are stretching inches a day.
The summer solstice occurred a few days ago making this our first full weekend of a new season. It’s a glorious stretch of long days and short nights with the sun rising before 5:30 a.m. and setting just before 9 p.m.
The movement of spring into summer has held significance for human beings for ages. People across the Northern Hemisphere have gathered together this time of year for rituals and meaning making during these longest of days.
Since the winter solstice of last December, I’ve been learning more about historic cultural and religious rituals related to the seasons. Paying attention to the change of seasons has helped me to live with a deepened sense of connectedness to God, ancestors, the sun and the earth.
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is one person’s quest to discern the meaning of it all. As part of their journey, the author proclaims an observation in chapter 11, “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.” I concur; it feels quite grounding to more consistently acknowledge the rhythms of this planet’s orbit around the sun.
How do you like to note the arrival of summer?
There’s a Lithuanian ritual which might be of interest, and it dates back many millennia. On June 24, the morning of a special day called Midsummer, people walk barefoot in the dew. Just as dew revives plants in the night, it is said to bring energy to those who walk upon it.
In Northern and Central Europe, bonfires have long been part of summer festivals. After the last embers burn and cool, the ashes can be placed in the soil of a garden as a special and potent fertilizer.
Long ago, Vikings used the extra daylight this time of year to settle disputes and other legal matters. The longer days provided additional time to convene for important discussions, and the surplus light was thought to strengthen wise decision-making.
There are a multitude of ways to actively acknowledge the arrival of summer. Wake up early to watch a sunrise. Set aside time to write or meditate. Savor outdoor evenings with friends. Feel the dew between your toes. May all of these rituals usher us more deeply into presence.
A prayer upon summer’s arrival: Author of Light, we are grateful to live on a planet in motion. We acknowledge this change of season with awe and wonder. For sun, soil and everything that grows, we give you thanks, and we pray for the capacity to notice. Amen.
"Holy Everything" is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor. Visit her website emilyannecarson.com .