This is how to feel the sap rising
Walk as slowly as possible,
all the while imagining
yourself moving through
pools of honey and dancing with
snails, turtles, and caterpillars.
Turn your body in a clockwise direction
to inspire your dreams to flow upward.
Imagine the trees are your own
wise ancestors offering their emerald
leaves to you as a sacred text.
Lay yourself down across earth
and stones. Feel the vibration of
dirt and moss, sparking a tiny
revolution in your heart
with their own great longing.
Close your eyes and forget this
border of skin. Imagine the
breeze blowing through your hair
is the breath of the forest and
your own breath joined, rising and
falling in ancient rhythms.
Open your eyes again and see it
is true, that there is no “me” and “tree”
but only One great pulsing of life,
one sap which nourishes and
enlivens all, one great nectar
bestowing trust and wonder.
Open your eyes and see that there
are no more words like beautiful,
and ugly, good and bad,
but only the shimmering presence of your
own attention to life.
Only one great miracle unfolding and
only one sacred word which is
—Christine Valters Paintner
(*originally published in Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within)
Dearest monks and artists,
Beltane (which means bright fire) is another of the cross-quarter days, representing the mid-point between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice and it is often experienced at the height of spring. In Ireland it is considered to be the beginning of summer and the beginning of the light half of the year. We can feel the significant shift in light at this latitude and the days are becoming significantly longer. Temperatures are warmer. Flowering has come to its fullness. Birds are singing in full chorus.
In Ireland the cuckoo birds start arriving from their winter in Africa, and there are music and walking festivals named after its return.
The power of nature’s life force returning is celebrated. Two fires were lit and the sheep and cattle were brought to the summer pastures. It is a fire festival of fertility and garlands of flowers are made up in honor of the creative abundance beginning to stream forth from the land.
This time of year celebrates the rising sap, the fruitfulness of the earth and human beings, and all in the process of ripening toward fullness. We honor the life force at work in the world around us and within us.
Beltaine is connected to the later Christian feast of Pentecost, that great celebration of the church coming alive and to full fruits. Fire and wind signal the Spirit breathing through the people and the land to inspire them in new ways.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner