Tomorrow, June 21, marks the annual event known as solstice, summer in the northern hemisphere, winter in the southern hemisphere. Literally, it’s the moment when the “sun stands still” before it starts back in the other direction and for those of us in the north, it is the “longest” day, meaning the most amount of sunlight and marks the official beginning of summer.
For half of the year we are inclined toward the sun and for the other half the southern hemisphere has this distinction. Why this makes any difference to anyone or to me may be the question so let me offer a brief explanation. It’s almost in the category of “if I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand” but I’ll give it a go anyway.
I am one of those who follow the sun along the horizon in its northward and southward trek, most often by watching the sun rise or the sun set and this way I have a fairly good idea of where we are in the year, on the planet. I see this solar path that is a result of both rotation and revolution and I sense a deeper connection to the earth and the sun. I happen to love the four seasons and I celebrate each one on the four dates of the two solstices and two equinoxes. The precise day and time is not so critical for me although it happens this year to be at 10:24 PM this evening, June 20 in Mountain Time in the U.S. It’s when the sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator, thus the greatest amount of daylight before we start back the other way.
The lessons for me in all of this can be summed up as follows: It is a very good thing to stand still before changing directions and to know on which axis I’m traveling and why. Secondly, how I let external conditions affect my internal frame of reference informs me about how my response will impact those around me. Finally, while I am “in motion” during each of the seasons, the directions, activities and conditions under which I operate fluctuate appropriately, especially when I am in sync with the sun, the moon and the stars. And maybe, because my birthday is a mere three days after solstice, I am even more affected than I even know at the conscious level.
So, Happy Solstice to each of you and Happy Birthday to me. It’s another beginning for me, blessed with so many and by so many. I am beginning another decade, beginning my 81st year, enormously grateful for each sunrise and the gift of yet another day. What I will make of today, and tomorrow, remains to be seen. My intention for today, and maybe it can become yours as well, comes from William Penn: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”