summer solstice symbol

The Soulful Season of Summer

“Summer is the season when all the promissory notes of autumn and winter and spring come due…summer is a steady state of plenty, a green and amber muchness that feeds us on more levels than we know…here is a summertime truth: abundance is a communal act, the joint creation of an incredibly complex ecology in which each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return, is sustained by the whole.”

– Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak 

I half joke that in Texas we have two seasons, Hot and Not-so-Hot. When I lived in Maine, the seasons were much more pronounced. After Labor Day, the official marking of fall, vacationers left, temperatures dropped, and leaves changed colors. The sun nodded off earlier and people took to the task of preparing for winter. As the coldest season set in, the beauty of the first snowfall covered the ground and the trees, who had long lost their foliage. Darkness fell at 3:30pm as the sun rarely moved above the tree line. Everyone burrowed in place. 

Soon, the sun grew a little taller, rain nourished the landscape and spring popped out, peppering the ground with green sprigs and the garden with fresh buds. There was hope in the air and people began stirring outside again. Finally, summer brought warmer temperatures, endless sunshine, full blooms, and visitors from far and near. This time was fondly called the High Season as everything we prepared, waited for, and nurtured culminated into our most fruitful period.

This rhythm of nature is a wonderful analogy for our lives right now and gives us a model for growing spiritually. As Palmer affirms, summer is the season when everything ripens and comes due. We wait through fall, winter and spring for this season to come. And I don’t think I’m being too dramatic when I say especially this summer of 2021. 

We’ve been in our expectant cycle for 16 months now, tending as best we could to others and ourselves. We’ve asked the question, “When will this season be over?” Or, in other words, “How can we trust the rhythm of nature to deliver?” The answer is because it consistently does. The next season always comes. It may come late or it may come a little differently than the year before, but we do not stay in the same season forever. A new season always presents itself. 

Finally, true to the law of nature, as we move out of the pandemic, something else is abundantly emerging. For me, it is a deepening sense of gratitude and a desire to lean into relationship with others. I’m inspired by a poem from Hafiz…

Even after all this time

The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with

A love like that,

It lights the Whole Sky.

We recently celebrated the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the word “solstice” comes from Latin solstitium—from sol (Sun) and stitium (still or stopped). In summer, the sun hangs still over our fraction of the globe and the earth soaks up its fertile rays. The sun gives and the earth blossoms. Of course the sun also receives from what the earth emits. In this universal community, there is an expectancy of giving and receiving. 

At this interval, I find myself sitting still and asking, “What is ripening in me that I might extend to others and in what ways can I confer these offerings?”

The list continues to grow and includes expressing the love of language through articles and letters, visiting with family I haven’t seen, meeting my directees and clients in person, gifting our beloved pencil cacti, teaching classes, sharing our summertime grills, co-creating with colleagues and communing with friends I have missed so much. 

There are old traditions to honor and new activities to experience. Conspiring with my family and friends, I am initiating new rituals that allow me to slow down and live deeply into the spirit of summer. To recognize what is abundant as I learn to trust in the law of nature that there is always more to come. 

Yes, there is an added sweetness to this summer, of what is possible after a long waiting. I am moving into the High Season, the fruitful period where everything is in full bloom. And I don’t want to miss a thing. 

I am grateful for the gift of being in a community. Multiple communities, actually. And with the gift of community comes the excitement of collaborating that ultimately leads to the fulfillment of purpose, like the sun, and the joy of belonging, like the earth. This is what I believe Palmer refers to in doing my part for the whole and being sustained by the whole. This is what lights up my soul.

Journal Prompts

As we move into the post pandemic phase, what is ripening in you now that you might give to others in your community—family, friends and wider circles?

What does abundance look like in your summer?

What rituals might you initiate this summer? 

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