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June 21, 1999 - A Midsummer Night's Dream
and the livin' is easy...
One of these mornins
you're gonna rise up singin'.
You're gonna spread your wings
and take to the sky."
--- George Gershwin
Summer Solstice, 1999
A Midsummer Night's Dream
(adapted from a column published in 'silent messages')
Though my Swedish ancestors celebrated the "Festival of Midsommar" long before I was born, this ritual was not mentioned when I was growing up. However, in a subliminal way I think I was always aware that something was missing in the rhythm of the holidays we focus upon in our Judeo-Christian culture. Both the Autumnal and Vernal Equinoxes were deemed holy in ceremonial ways, as was the Winter Solstice. Yet this time of year was valued, as much as any other if my memory serves me correctly. Summer represented freedom; summer was the time to let go of all worries and just have fun. School was out, and my family was fortunate enough to be able to travel to New England as well as our enclave in Wisconsin. At home, this season provided time to relax while watching fireflies light up the backyard like mini-fireworks. I remember not being scolded even if I came back home long after the streetlights went on, an act which was normally a travesty. And I remember sunning and swimming and summer loves...
Years later, high atop Mt. Vetter in British Columbia I realized how sacred Summer Solstice can be. Just as I had gone through the tunnel of darkness in the winter, I was now reveling in the magic and mystery of the midnight Sun. On Midsummer night I hiked to a meadow just below timberline with a group of twenty or so people who ranged in age from eight to almost eighty. We packed simple refreshments and primitive instruments for this casual gathering. When we arrived at the meadow we built a bonfire, but not because we needed warmth or light. We sang and danced and cavorted in the fields of heather and columbine that swayed in the gentle wind. We marveled at the Sun's reflection on the still surface of a nearby pond. We made fanciful garlands which we wrapped around our waists and necks and foreheads. Though never truly setting, the Sun did appear to dip just below the horizon at what I suppose would be considered dawn. At this time, we silently formed a circle around the fire. My friend Julia began to chant quietly and melodically. We joined her, and the enchanting sound echoed back to us from the neighboring mountains. In that moment, which seemed to be endless, I felt at one with the All that Is in a way I never had before. Since then, no matter where I am living, I have celebrated and contemplated the meaning of this Holy Day.
Summer Solstice is sacred in a way our current culture seems shy about or hesitant to express. Yes, we all engage in enjoyable activities during this season. However, few of us stop to think that a visit to an amusement park, taking a trip, or attending a family barbecue just might contain a significant spiritual component that generally is not recognized or acknowledged by our society. We give ourselves permission to loosen up, to let go of the controls that usually govern our lives. We wear fewer clothes, and understand that certain projects might be delayed a bit because of vacation schedules and the like. Some of us even go out to play in the dirt and run through the sprinkler, albeit under the guise of gardening.
Still, how many of us consider these activities to be a form of prayer, a statement of gratitude to the Universe that life, indeed, is good? Couldn't it be that delighting in the pleasure of summer is every bit as worthy a contribution to the well- being of humankind in addition to giving of time and money to both the necessary tasks and worthy causes we engage in year round? What would happen if we consciously thought of having fun and relaxing as a mandatory, re-energizing sacrament dedicated to the spiritual enhancement of our lives?
On June 21 at 3:49 PM EDT, the celestial energy of Summer Solstice culminates and will be prevalent throughout the day. At this time, we have the opportunity to realize that our creative and whimsical activities are every bit as important as our more serious and obligatory endeavors. Exploring our lives in this practical yet emotionally charged manner can have a transformative affect on all of our relationships, starting with ourselves. We can fulfill the elusive dream of midsummer, the dream that there is a time for banishing all shadows of doubt and fear, a time for basking in the light which provides clear vision, strength and energy.
© Kristina Strom
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