If you were busy enjoying the beautiful weather over the weekend, you may have not known that summer arrived. That is, in the Celtic calendar. The season of Beltane arrived on May 1st…May Day in some cultures….and is with us until the end of July. So….happy summer! While our mornings and evenings are still cool and do not feel so summer-like, all one need do is keep a window open and be awakened at 4:30 a.m. to know that the seasons have definitely changed. Whether you call it full-on spring or just plain summer, is up to you.
For many years I have used a small devotional book that follows these Celtic seasons. It is simply called Celtic Devotional and is written by Caitlin Matthews. Each of the four seasons has both a morning and evening prayer practice but also outlines some suggestions for approaching each season. I was particularly drawn to a few of the suggested intentions set forth for Beltane….the season of summer.
They begin: Regularly assess your motivations and your use of the gift of life. I don’t know about you but sometimes my true motivations get obscured by all manner of things……obligation, habit, pleasing others, stubbornness, magical thinking to name only a few. Why do we do the things we do? And what might our days be like if we paid particular attention and were truthful about our motivations. Would this lead to a more honest look at how we use the gift that is our very life? I somehow believe it would.
The suggestions go on: In this busy season, make time for proper soul-nurture. Of course this is an intention for every season. But somehow, in summer, it has been my experience that we can tend to schedule ourselves at the big smorgasbord that is this glorious season without taking the needed time to reflect, to be still, to be silent in the face of all that is being revealed to us. How are we living with the rhythm of summer rather than running full speed into what will soon be autumn? How is the power and presence of Sun’s movements calling to us to slow down and be present to the ‘gift of our life’?
Walk and meditate outdoors for at least a half-hour every day. I did this yesterday. I will confess that I most often walk outside with my phone, using the exercise time to catch up on phone calls. Yes, I am one of those people…..walking along talking to an unseen person. But yesterday I walked with only myself and the grand array as company. I walked like a toddler….or a dog….noticing every new addition to the landscape. Trees are slowly turning from their yellow-green springness to a darker green that spells summer. Tulips, crocuses, daffodils, azaleas…..and oh, my…….the magnolias! One house on my path had white, pink AND lavender lilacs….each with their own sweet scent.
As you travel through the country of Summer, relate your spiritual journey to the bright gifts of this season. And how could we not, if we are awake, if we are present to all the glory that is everywhere? To see the possibility in each seed that is planted, each flower that is emerging from the tomb of earth that is winter. To gaze at a dandelion and declare it not weed but beauty and beacon for the honeybees that feed us all. To watch the path of the Sun and allow the Moon to bathe us in its ever-changing light. All these speak to the grace and mercy that is gift of the One who breathed us all into being and travels with us in both the darkness and the light of our lives.
The final suggestion: Create a spontaneous dance that physically expresses your kinship with the universe. It seems the only sensible thing to do, doesn’t it? So, welcome to summer. May it find each of us dancing for the gift of our life and the gifts of the life that is bursting forth all around us. I hope to see and do a lot of dancing as the days of summer come into their fullness. Won’t you join me?