When the Sun Stands Still: Summer Solstice in Ireland

When the Sun Stands Still: Summer Solstice in Ireland June 20, 2013

front garden : 0530

The light, gold, like the deep raw honey of summer, washes the front garden.  The sun rests just over the eastern ridge, risen less than 30 minutes, but the first light, the uncanny gold–like a crown–wakes me.  This mysterious morning light rouses me every time, every year.  By half five I am called out of my warm bed to crawl, on all fours, to the low cottage window and peer sleepily out at the waking world.

In truth, it may be the dawn chorus that stirs me from my slumber with its song.  My open window invites all sound in, to walk among us as we dream, but the birds have hushed and gone about their day by the time my eyes open; or, they are stilled to silence as the long honey arm reaches into their summer world.

The sun stands still.  The days are long; so long, that they stretch for all of time.

My ‘little Big’ flew home Tuesday, and her sister, my ‘Little big,’ arrived the same day, into the same airport.  We women, together in one place, a place of perpetual transition, during a time of stillness, and on foreign soil–the first time the sisters had seen each other since Yule (and they live in the same town).  This week though, as Sun Stand-Still approaches, I took them both, in their turn, to a high place–the beautiful Mangerton and Tomies Mountains.  These mountains both lead to an ancient oak forest, and that was the ultimate destination.

My female Little Bigs are both young adults, both with ideas and theories of their own regarding spirituality, yet I love to share my views with them.  I do this, most successfully, by including them in my experience.  It’s never a good idea to ‘preach’ at Little Big people!  Instead, I take them with me to places I find particularly potent, or that have special meaning to me, and just let them Be.  I leave them to have their own experience, or not.  I don’t prologue the visit with my story, or fill their minds with myth and legend.  Occasionally, they ask whether I know any stories about an area, or they share a feeling or perception they had and ask whether I felt it, too.  I love those moments.

In the forest, at the base of the high place, green ferns unfurl onto moss carpeted paths.  Light dances among leaves, revealing itself in unexpected and playful patterns.  I stand still, listening.  The life that bursts forth in my silence always surprises me.  Where a moment ago was a quiet oak grove, now riotous music breaks, like a wave, upon the shore of my awareness.  I smile; I leap; I dash into the arms of the forest and set my feet, running, along unmarked ways.

And the day goes on.  By 6 in the afternoon I am brown from the sun, glowing with my genetic heritage bright upon my face.  Yet the sun still rides high in the sky and I stretch myself out, iced cider close to hand.  I have lived a lifetime already, filled the daylight hours so full my skin is bursting with it, but there is more.  Liquid amber raining down upon me, inviting me to adventure.  I think of the Fianna, and their summer exploits.  The goings and comings, and the sun stand still of Aengus’ birth.  At the height of the day, the light is white–like milk–poured out by Boann, the sacred cow who had the power to curse.

back garden : 2230

Stretching on, the day fades to pastel.  The night, a glowing purple that never really darkens.  An endless day, a day and a night of eternity, when all things are possible and great deeds await.

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