Take a look at this fun, original take on life here in the Cedar Valley. The latest edition of Mag Pie, published by our own Emily Stowe.
And by the way, (shamless plug) I have an essay and art in this edition!
Everything reaches its zenith in July.
The sun swings to its peak in the sky, pausing before retreating in its arc. Shrubbery, trees, and garden, even the lowly weed, revel is downy youth.
Hot summer afternoons fill with the sound of children at the pool, racing to catch the ice cream truck, the buzz of mosquitoes, power saws, neighbors mowing.
All summer sounds reach this cocoon of hammock stretched out under the sheltering shade of the oak. The cricket and cardinal preach their summer sermons. Soon the full-throated cry of cicada with all its missionary fever will join this summer Chautauqua.
Gone are the floral notes of spring, replaced by the heady scents of summer: coconut suntan oil; sun-burned, sweat-soaked skin, chlorine, campfires, and burgers on the grill.
Out there, a flurry of activity: fireworks, parades, festivals. Here in this blissed pause of July, there is a hammock, thick book, cold drink, long nap.
Mind swings from one thought to the next in a lazy, hazy summer way of cattle lowing in the meadow, berries ripening on the hill, the slow waxing, and waning of the moon.
The trees applaud July’s performance. The brook murmurs its approval. The book lowers to chest, eyelids heavy; a pause
a July Pause.
June’s full moon is called the Strawberry Moon. Here in the Midwest, strawberries ripen as this month’s moon waxes and wanes.
In a good year, we’ll get two, maybe three, weeks of sun-ripened sweetness that shows the sham of store-bought berries.
Many of us make annual pilgrimages to the local berry grower. We either pick our own or buy quarts of early summer sweetness distilled into small red berries.
Thank goodness there are still things that capitalism, with its relentless tactics of anxiety, envy, and distraction, can’t touch. Field strawberries naturally ripened are too fragile to ship even a hundred miles, let alone thousands.
Tasting a strawberry plucked from the dirt, ripened by sunshine under an open sky, reminds us of the difference between eating and tasting.
It reminds us too of the cycle of seasons. Seasonal ripening speaks to the reciprocity inherent in nature. Nature grants us rights to harvest only so long as we bear the responsibility to nurture and protect soil and water.
This past year brought home to all of us how interconnected we are. Hopefully, we learned that our well-being depends on everyone’s well-being. Maybe we’ll yet remember that our well-being depends on the planet’s, our only home, well-being.
Back home, I pause to savor this annual pilgrimage. This ancient process of recognizing the season, taking time to harvest, and listen to bird songs. The pulse of wind and sun on my skin reminds me home is bigger than the walls around me.
It’s easy to fret and worry. What will become of us? But slipping a plump strawberry into my mouth becomes a promise of more springs and summers to grow wiser. A promise of future Strawberry Moons shining on a planet where we’ve learned to care for each other and our home.
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“The season has begun to pry at winter buds, loosening their tight knots, patiently untangling them into blossoms.” Mary Jo Hoffman
Sometimes our hearts are like buds, tight tiny knots. We hang onto those knots as hedges against uncertainty, ambiguity, fear, and loss.
The spring-flowering trees have been flamboyant this year, full of blossom and scent. But their beauty has been short-lived, nipped by freezing temperatures and stifling heat.
These swings between searing heat and numbing cold have been hell on blossoms. The forecast for the next 10-days is for more stable temperatures without the wild swings of seasonal disorientation. Now the late flowering crabs are coming into their moment. Will the moment last?
So much of life is about timing. Spring’s texture is more challenging for me to grasp than winter, summer, or fall. It’s both more ephemeral and less predictable. Its many texture changes from shivering cold to searing heat make me wonder whether spring is now endangered, a vanishing season.
Spring in my life has been the season of longing and restlessness. The time when all of nature sings of passion and I join in. There’s a feral-ness to spring I embrace. I want to play hooky, shedding adult responsibilities, the dependable productivity of my days.
Perhaps that’s springs purpose, to renew a spirit of exploration and adventure. Two friends write that they are playing with the spring muse. One is considering taking an art class, the other getting back in the saddle. One worries she may be a “bit late.” The other thrills that muscle memory lets her enjoy her time atop a horse. Age, she reports, is a “non-issue.”
Here’s the glory of this moment, whatever your age, flower where you are with the ideas ripening in your life. May your heart unfurl, untangle and release whatever is holding the budding potential.
May you blossom.
Click here to download EarthWhispers Abbey Shalom Spirituality Retreat homework and resources for week 1.
A new year is dawning. What will you make of it? What will it make of you?
I invite you to sit here for a moment. Take in the tide ebbing and flowing. Take in your own ebb and flow.
I leave you with this blessing from my EarthWhispers sister, Sue Schuerman:
Like birds sing the day into being, may you, too, break into song at the mere appearance of dawn.
When life is going well, I’m the kid with the ice cream cone, licking it all up, wanting more.
When life goes badly, I want to hurry along, believing, hoping, the future holds better days. Good or bad, I’m in a hurry, hungry for more, focusing on the future.
This year unhinged my usual tactics for dealing with life. Why hurry? I’m fine, right where I am. The future too uncertain to long for it’s coming. Each day holds enough joy and sorrow. In this slowed down enoughness, we face things as they are and recognize the impermanence of life, love, happiness. It is, it is not, it is.
As we wrap Christmas presents, I want to wrap us in bubble wrap protecting us against our fragility and hubris.
And yet I know life demands everything we’ve got and a bit more. Our happiness bubbles pop.
We step into a future and faith–less magical, smaller, and more real. It’s the size of the room we’re in right now. We’re going to need less faith and more practice. The practice of extending generosity to meet scarcity and sorrow, comfort to salve fear, meeting uncertainty with our witness and presence.
In this dark winter, may we light a candle of hope. In our sorrow may we open to our tenderness. May we face uncertainty with courage.