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QUINTESSENCE

Summer Solstice

THE SUMMER TREE
In all the summer glut of green,
Serrated leaves, a dark and shifty screen,

Catalpa flowers, unseasonal surprise,
To tense the landscape up for drowsy eyes.

We come alive beholding points of white,
Among the leaves, immense rosettes alight.

The blessing of pure form that opens space
And makes us stop and look in sudden peace.

- May Sarton


Summer Solstice arrived with yesterday's twilight. The apex in the lengthening of daylight, the full face of one hemisphere of Earth basking in the sun. My dearest friend Cynthia, a Zen Buddhist priest, honors the solstice in a sacred way. She tunes in to the wisdom of nature. Ancient pagan rituals welcomed in the change of seasons, recognizing in the constancy of nature a primal truth which outlasts the brief presence of human lives. We speak with the earth, we honor her ways, we acknowledge our lives are embedded in the wisdom of natural rhythms.

The solstice and the equinox mark turning points in the ebb and flow of light. An equinox is the time at which the day and night come into balance, when there is exactly the same number of daylight hours as there are nighttime hours. The sun crosses Earth's equator during an equinox, which accounts for the balance in light. There are two equinoxes every year. One marks the first day of spring while the other marks the first day of autumn.

"Solstice" however, literally means "sun stands still." The solstice marks the end of the day's increase or decrease in daylight hours, depending on the time of year. The Winter Solstice marks the first day of winter, and is the day with the least amount of daylight hours. The Summer Solstice marks the first day of summer, the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. A hemisphere's nearest pole is pointing toward the sun at the Summer Solstice and away from it at the Winter Solstice.

For me personally, the equinox, the point of balance, is the most meaningful transition in the psychology of my life. I am a woman born on the cusp of two astrological signs, born on the 22nd of September - the autumnal equinox. Basking in the last of summer, embracing the fall. The twin equinoxes of autumn and spring are moments of illumination poised between the the past and the future. The 21st ends a cycle and the 22nd begins the new. My husband passed on the 22nd. A special person in my life was born in that same month, also on the 22nd. My life is as linked to the equinox and the calender date of the 22nd as the constellations in their rotations above us in dark space.

Summer Solstice is a dazzling culmination of energy, Light has opened itself, blooming. The moment is now. Now to dance, now to love, now to work, now to play. Embrace the gifts of your summer.

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