I love the light and stillness in this brilliant painting, which so beautifully evokes summer sunshine. Summer solstice, the longest day of the year is a good day to celebrate the gifts of sun and season. It’s a day of strawberries, blue sky, and shimmering heat, at least this year.
For Unitarians, I see the solstice days – the longest and shortest days of the year – as a good day to remember that we belong to this earth and this solar system. The orbit of the earth around the sun is such that our northern hemisphere is angled towards the sun, giving us more of the sun’s rays, tomorrow our orbit will begin to shift slowly around. Today we will have more than fifteen hours of sunlight: summer has now officially begun here in the northen hemisphere.
Our main symbol is the flaming chalice so it seems appropriate for Unitarians to honour the sun, the ultimate chalice. The giant ball of gaseous energy flares forth to give us and all beings life; the sun is utterly essential to us, yet in the modern world we barely acknowledge our dependence. Perhaps a healthy spiritual practice for Unitarians would be to take time on the solstices to celebrate the sun. One of my favourite children’s books, The Way to Start A Day by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall is a poetic tribute to celebrating the morning sun. The book offers a simple ritual with its opening lines:
The way to start a day is this –
Go outside and face the east and greet the sun with some kind of
blessing or chant or song that you made yourself and
keep for early morning.
The way to make the song is this –
Don’t try to think what words to use until you’re standing there alone.
When you feel the sun you’ll feel the song too.
Just sing it.
What would your summer solstice song to the sun sound like?