Welcome Summer’s Fire the Fuel for Justice
Welcome June solstice! As the sun roars into the northern hemisphere drenching us in rose-perfumed, sea-side beckoning light, we the people, caught in an extraordinary moment of human history, roar back. The pent-up frustration dammed by a pall of contagion that has compelled social distancing and stay-at-home orders has broken as rivers of protesters of all ethnicities and ages proclaim, “Black lives matter!” The ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic downturn in its wake, and the continued police violence against black men and women have revved our suffering into a fever-pitch of action. The bright light of the longest day throws into stunning relief the dark stain of social inequity left by centuries of colonialism, slavery, and racial bigotry. The fiery energy of protest drives the engine of the political will to change.
June 21st, the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, also marks an annular solar eclipse during which the moon’s shadow will block out most of the sun leaving only a ring of fire visible around its perimeter. What a fitting symbol of this raw, conflagratory moment in a world roiled by disease and social unrest. We are caught in a burning ring of fire. The old order seems to be collapsing and a new one waiting to be born. We might ask with Yeats in his poem, “The Second Coming” if the center will hold, if our innocence has been drowned in a “blood-dimmed tide” and “what rough beast … slouches toward Bethlehem to be born”? We long for certainty as we are carried along by a tide of change.
While the sun lingers and lights our evenings unto night, the moon is new. During the new moon period, we enter a time of darkness where death and gestation meet. How like this moment in human history! Hekate is the ancient Greek goddess associated with the new moon, as well as with crossroads and borders. Many of us today hover in states of waiting: waiting to cross a border, to return to work, to recover from illness, to accept the release of death, or to resume life safely once there is a vaccine. What hidden truth is made visible in this conjunction of dark and light?
As crones, many of us, however strong our sympathies may be for the protestors, are isolated at home because we are more vulnerable to life-threatening complications if we contract the Covid-19 virus. Nevertheless, we too have an important role to play. Old age humbles us, brings us to the ground, grinds us down back into earth. We elders, who keep solitary vigils, are called to a deep encounter with ourselves in which the limitations of our human egos and desires are experienced. We may arrive at a sense of deep solidarity with those who suffer be it from hunger, pain, loss, or discrimination.
Chinua Achebe, in his novel, Things Fall Apart, quotes a song the Igbo people sing when a woman dies. “For whom is its well? For whom is it well? There is no one for whom it is well.” To grow in wisdom is to accept the randomness of life with its unpredictable roller coaster ride of suffering and happiness. With that acceptance, comes the possibility of peace, serenity, and joy.
All of us, those who face the challenges and insights of solitude, those who are on the front lines of caring for the sick and frail, and those who march, are on a sacred journey. The protestors are on a pilgrimage to break free into the promised land where all Goddess’s children can breathe. Health care and other essential workers are the nurturing hands of the Divine Mother in action, and those who watch spin webs of compassion. Working together fueled by hope, we are the feet, hands, and heart of the Source of All.
As crones how do we open the reservoirs of compassion to begin to heal a divided world? Accepting ourselves with compassion allows us to love and accept others. We may be called upon to listen deeply to others taking in their words, experiencing life through their eyes, honoring their truth, and allowing us to join in a mutual discovery of life’s mysteries so that both our soul and theirs feels seen. Slowly as our heart’s burden is met with understanding and acceptance, it ripens into maturity and is able to extend empathy to others lessening the need for violence.
Buddhist nun and writer, Pema Chödrön writes, “Compassion is not a relationship between healer and wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
Let those at the end of life join hands with those at its beginning to celebrate the long-time sun and to pray for a star to keep the compass of our hearts pointed true north.
May the long-time sun shine upon you, bring you peace, and guide you home,