Sweet Midsummer Blessings (Abbey Sabbatical)

Watermelon 

You know
what summer
tastes like—the pink flesh
of a generous earth,
this rounded life
fully ripe, fully flavored.
How could you be ashamed
at the tug of desire?
The world has opened itself to you,
season after season.
What is summer’s sweetness
but an invitation to respond?
There is only one way
to eat a watermelon.
Bury your face
in the wetness
of that rosy slab
and bite.

-Lynn Ungar from Blessing the Bread 

I leave on Monday for two weeks away with my beloved in a warm, breezy place with little internet access and nothing but wide expanses of time.  My body is hungry for the deep rest.  This has been a difficult year on many levels between our sweet dog Tune’s decline with dementia in the fall and eventually letting her go, my pulmonary embolism at Christmas, and my mother-in-law’s continued decline with Alzheimer’s.  It has also been an amazingly blessed year with two new books written, many classes taught and new friendships made with kindred spirits, and of course the sheer gift of being alive.

My birthday is June 23rd and my husband is June 24th (yes, I am exactly one day older, give or take a few hours).  A few years ago we traveled to Latvia one summer where my father was born.  I felt such kinship to this beautiful place where the forest meets the sea and we discovered that their midsummer festival actually takes place on June 23-24, starting the evening before the feast of St. John the Baptist.  It is one of their most significant festivals, especially since they are quite far north and winters must feel very long and dark.  So last summer we traveled there again to celebrate turning forty since we knew they would be throwing a big party for us.  Latvia has a long and rich pagan tradition and was one of the last countries in Europe to be Christianized because of its location.  The turning of the year’s wheel is still quite significant in their culture.

Summer is more challenging for me, largely because in Seattle the summer days are quite long and I have trouble getting enough sleep.  I am very light sensitive.  But I am also eager to embrace the gifts of summer: farmer’s markets, rolling in the grass, picnics on the beach, long hikes through the forest, playing with our sweet dog, napping, swimming, stretching, savoring everything slowly, celebrating the ripeness of the world.  In Lynn Ungar’s lovely words: “What is summer’s sweetness but an invitation to respond?”

I love that my birthday falls mid-year and on such a significant point in the cycles and seasons.  It is a good time for me to pause and reflect on what I want to release and what I want to carry forward, to embrace what is ripe within me, to listen to how I want to respond to summer’s sweet offerings.

So the Abbey blog will be on sabbatical until the end of June.  I will not be answering emails during that time and the Abbey Shop will be closed.  Unplugging is good for the soul. 

When I return I have a Virtual Book Tour planned for my two new books (Lectio Divina–The Sacred Art: Transforming Words & Images Into Heart-Centered and The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom) and will be visiting lots of wonderful blogs and writing guest posts, getting interviewed, and having my books reviewed.  I look forward to sharing that with you.  But first, it is time to rest, replenish, restore, renew.

May each of your journeys unfold with a thousand delightful surprises these summer days (or winter for my dear southern hemisphere readers).  May the Solstice bring you the gift of illumination.  May the sweetness of summer elicit a long sigh of surrender from the deepest places of your being.

(*the photo above is of my beloved and I on the Baltic beach at Jurmala in Latvia last summer celebrating our birthdays)

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