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Tomorrow is the feast of Beltane, the first day of summer according to the Celtic calendar.  Like its sister feast of Samhain on November 1st, it is a time when the boundary between this world and the Other world is believed to be especially thin.  It is also a time of lighting bonfires for rituals of purification and bringing livestock out to summer pastures.  I find the Celtic dates for marking seasons make more sense to me, by the Solstice we have already reached the longest day and then we begin the slow turn back to darkness.  I realize some of you are just beginning to get a taste of springtime, but the seeds of summer are dancing on the horizon.

I have a mixed relationship with summer. Unlike most Seattleites, I actually find the long light days difficult because I often can’t sleep enough to get well rested and I prefer our more usual, cooler, rainy weather to the brilliant, sun-filled days of Seattle summers (it really doesn’t rain all the time, summer gets very little at all) as bright light is often a migraine trigger for me.  Last summer I spent a lot of the time feeling tired and having headaches. 

And yet despite this, I have to admit there is definitely something wonderful about summer.  I am eager for the return of our local farmer’s market in a couple of Sundays, where summer fruits and vegetables are piled high next to containers of brilliant bouquets, fresh bread, handcrafted cheese, and luscious lox.  There is a wondrous bounty to the summer months.  My birthday is two days after the Solstice, so summer has often been about celebrating (and my husband’s birthday is the day after mine, same year, so we get a double celebration).

Since my husband is a teacher and I often teach in the academic world as well, summer also means vacation time, those long stretches of carefree days without ordinary responsibilities, time to play, Sabbath time.  And even though I continue to see people for spiritual direction and have writing projects to tend to, there is a lightness to my schedule since many meetings and other commitments are pared down for the summer months.

Despite my difficult summer last year, I find myself eager for the gifts this summer brings: the time my beloved and I get to spend together, the creative rhythms that emerge from following my own longings and listening for what wants to emerge in a given moment, and permission to play!  We will be traveling to Ireland in a few short weeks, and then I have a couple of art retreats I have signed up for with space between to simple honor the gift of time to breathe deeply.

I am feeling a sense of eagerness to surrender into the gifts of summer, to welcome the freedom that is calling to me.  I am trusting this longing as a holy one and know that what will emerge will be surprising and new.  What is ahead for you this summer?  What are the gifts of summer you celebrate?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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12 Responses

  1. Sorry – I’ve been out – busy…in my yard.

    I do lots of tomato recipes – spaghettie sauce, tomato sauce, dried tomatoes (yum).

    We have a splendid cherry tree that grows enough for both us and the birds and I love making cherry pies from it.

    And last summer I accidently created my newest preserving craze using the zuchinni from my garden I make squash soup – I prepare it up to the last step and then I freeze it in cubes – then I can pull it out and heat it up and add cream in the winter – everyone but my husband and children love it. It is great to have available when people are at my house around lunch time – with some bread it is scrumptious.

    And I have to photograph my yard, flowers, garden in great detail during the summer – it is obsessive. And in some way, that fits into preserving too.

    Suz – I am in Andover. Not far at all.

  2. Suz, that is soooo coool that you and Trish “did” the same program! Also, with the Ave. of the Saints done, Minneapolis is now just a 5 hour drive north!

  3. Thanks Britt-Arnhild. I hope to go to Lindisfarne one day, but not this trip.

    Thank you Karla, even though I have never met Trish personally I felt like we shared a kindred spirit through her blogging and email.

    Perfectly appropriate Suz. :-)

  4. Probably not an apporipriate comment…Trish and I graduated from the same spiritual direction program…several years apart. She is so dear…I would love to meet her in person.

    Many roads lead to Minneapolis!

  5. Christine, will definitely pass your message on to Trish. Isn’t she such a blessed soul?! I am soooo excited to be a part of Immersion!

    To the Minnesotans: I get the weather comments all too well! Iowa’s hot and humid too! ;) ? :(

  6. I like your way of following the seasons letting God shine on you.
    I am fascinated by the Celts and will go back to Lindisfarne in four weeks.

  7. Karla, your summer sounds wonderful as well. I agree that these last few weeks are the hardest for teachers and students, my husband is even more eager than I am for Ireland if that’s possible. I am hopeful the migraines will be better this summer because I finally started on preventative medication and it has done a world of good already. When you see Trish, please send her my love and tell her I really miss her presence in cyberspace!

    Me, I imagine Minnesota gets very humid too, that’s one think I don’t miss at all from growing up on the east coast. What kinds of things do you preserve? Sounds so yummy!

    Hi Suz, for some reason I have several Minnesota area readers. I am looking forward to the green, going from the Emerald City to the Emerald Isle! Your retreats sounds marvelous and I look forward to meeting you in November!

  8. Hello, Me from Minnesota (I am from Minneapolis).

    I don’t like the summer here either. It is pretty oppressive with the 10,000 lakes.

    Ireland sounds lovely, Christine. We were there about ten years ago and I will never forget the GREEN. It gave new meaning to the color.

    I am going to a retreat on Arts and Spirituality at United Theological Seminary and to a woman’s retreat in the Boundary Waters. I have done the second for about twelve years…great Sabbath time!

    Then…I must get my application off for your workshop. I just don’t have a thinking brain to answer the questions appropriately!

  9. I like the cooler darker seasons better too. Here in Minnesota it gets too hot in the summer to suit me. But there are two things in particular about the summer that I enjoy.

    I always look forward to working in my garden and preserving what I grow. And that growth is tied to the other thing I love about summer. I love to photograph the intense richness of summer the flowers, the insects, the water, the everything.

    It is, also, very nice to turn the girls outdoors with more freedom.

  10. Ahhh! Summer! After a weekend in shorts and tanktops, my kids struggled with school night bedtime last evening. This last month of school is often the most difficult, for kids, parents, and teachers! DH will be on summer break in a mere 5 days. Yeah! Time to play, time to do home-work unhindered by work-work, time to explore, time to transform, time to just be. In just a few weeks I will return to Milwaukee for our 2nd session of Immersion. I can hardly wait! This year, my calendar is marked by Immersion time. Time to be apartfrom the “absolutely normal chaos” and time to delve below the surface, to be immersed in the Holy. Time to be blessed by Trish and Karen, and the other pilgrims on the journey deep!

    I pray the migraines of last summer stay in the past! I “get” what you’re saying all too well! :( Perhaps holding intentionally to the freedom will help you keep in the moment of release, or peace, where the triggers stay far away?! Your writing is such a blessing. It gives way to pauses where I can breathe. Where I can reflect. Where I can grow, just as the pretty posies you’ve taken such awesome pics of! (((HUGS))) –K