Litha is here and it is the longest day of the year. It is the Midsummer or Alban Hefin—light of the summer or light of the shore in the Druidric path. This is my most favorite season, as I am an otter and love to play in the water. The beach —that tingle of the hot sand as I walk to get relief in the cold ocean water. Something I wait for all year long. Last year, the pandemic robbed all that joy from me. No furious waves toppling me over, no scorching my feet as I walk through nature’s paradise.
Sure, I do love Yule. I find so much joy in giving gifts, even if they are small ones. Moreover, who doesn’t love dressing up for Halloween? These are all fun but Litha to me is a time to play. Swimming in my pool as hard and fast as I can until I cannot anymore, getting bounced around the ocean by the waves, this to me is playful fun. I believe this month’s Soul Matters theme “play” that the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, New Jersey to which I belong to, is exploring really hits the mark.
“Playing is for kids; adults do not play.” I heard this so many times. Recently, in a UU covenant group meeting I attended, someone said, “I cannot remember the last time I played.” While I found that a bit sad, I was thinking of all the times recently that I played.
My family and I babysit my two and a half year old niece twice a week. I stoop down to her level and we have a blast playing together. I chase her around the room, and then she thinks she is chasing me; we toss the ball around and just have fun. The other day I sat her on the pool ledge; I had a good grip on her, as she did on me. We were just splashing the water and giggling together. Then there is Dungeons & Dragons on Thursday nights, where I have to stretch my imagination a bit. Oh, and I cannot forget the weekends when I am with my friends and we are dancing to the music. Yes, dancing in my opinion can be a form of play.
Yes, while I do anticipate Litha, it does remind me that the sun reached its highest point and now the nights slowly begin to grow longer again. Druids held bonfires rejoicing that Bel, the Celtic God of the sun is at his fullest strength. However, they also recognized the slow decline after this point and felt a bit of sadness. I can relate to this somewhat, but probably for different reasons than those ancestors. They were most likely thinking of their harvest and hunting for food that they relied on to stay alive. I, however, am thinking of how many more days I have to spend playing at the shore and in the pool. I always say you are going to take me kicking and screaming off the beach come September.
When I sit and look out at the seashore, I can see the sand, the sea and the sky join. I noticed this wonder with a photograph I took of the ocean right before a storm hit during a Catholic college retreat in Long Beach Island, NJ. I grabbed a photograph of the ocean with the rocks from the jetty on the left, the sand just gracing the right, the ocean water sparkling in the middle and the sky above. Due to the incoming storm, my point and shoot camera captured all the colors blended in the same tone. Unaware of Paganism and my Druidric path at the time I called the photo joining of the sky and sea. Now that I look back though, I would have added land to that.
Druids have a high respect for the numinous, those places in between such as the seashore with the joining of the earth, sky and sea. The shore is a mystical place where it easy to get “lost.” Time flies here, at least for me. I am so busy having fun even when a small rain cloud graces us with its presence. This is where I am the happiest and the most relaxed. The one time when as Kenny Chesney says, “No shoes, No Shirt, No problems” really relates. However, for me it is no shoes, no socks, no problems.
So play in the water, build a sand castle, soak up the sun, wear sunscreen and have a blast. Let that kid inside you have fun. We only have about two months of this beautiful weather and before you know it, it is pumpkin everything. Until I can get myself to the shore, I will be in my pool swimming while rockin’ out to the old radio blasting Country and Classic Rock. I may get waterlogged.