So here we are, at Lammas already. The first harvest. It is the time when the boughs are heavy with the first fruits. As the first time we get to collect the fruits of our labor, we often hear the phrase “go after the low-hanging fruit.” And it is apropos to this moment.
It’s important to understand all the things that phrase entails — low-hanging fruit — and why it matters so much. We all know how the phrase is used colloquially. Low-hanging fruit is easy. It hangs where you don’t need to work hard to retrieve it. We typically use that expression to talk about things that we should accomplish first because they are easy, and do not require as much effort.
Low-hanging fruit is heavy with possibility. It is fully ripe, and it is important to go after it not just because it is easy to harvest. It is important to go after it because if you leave it too long, it will drop from the tree and become unusable. If you do not collect the low-hanging fruit when it presents itself, if you miss that moment, you might lose the opportunity altogether.
It’s hard to grapple with the fact that the world is still very much in the grip of COVID-19, even as we come to the first harvest Sabbat. Most of us are struggling with all the moments over this past season that we have missed. Moments we wanted with friends and loved ones. Moments we wanted for our pleasure, for our livelihoods, for our growth. Moments that are stolen from us because of this pandemic.
Lammas, like all the harvest Sabbats, is about meeting the moment — knowing what there is to be done and bringing the right action to that opportunity at the right time. And at this time, at the first harvest, it’s very much about not missing the most important first moments, not letting them pass you by.
For many, this Sabbat is also called Lughnassah, in honor of the Celtic sun god, Lugh. That’s no accident. Lugh is known for many things, and there are few things that he cannot master. We all know someone like Lugh. They have a sunny disposition, always seem full of joy and life. Almost everything they try comes to them easily, whether it’s singing or playing cards or athletics. The whole world seems to love them, and you cannot walk with them through a public square without having to stop every few feet to greet yet another of their friends. You want to hate them because they’re too good at everything. And you can’t, because their joy and lightness of being is too infectious. They pull you in to their glow, and make you feel a part of it. That’s Lugh all right.
One of the more famous stories about Lugh goes like this: When Lugh comes of age he goes to the seat of power of the Tuatha de Dannan, to Tara, ruled by the King Nuada. According to the rules, no one may enter the Court of the Tuatha de Dannan without demonstrating a skill with which they can serve the King. He asks the guards if there is a harpist. There is. He asks if there is a swordsman. There is. He asks if there is a poet. There is. There is also a craftsman, a hero, a smith, a sorcerer and a historian as well. Finally, Lugh asks if there is anyone who can be all those things. There is not, and therefore he may enter.
Lugh is the man of the moment. His many gifts mean that he always has the right skill at the right time to get the job done. And that is what makes him the god at the moment of this Sabbat. If Lammas is about meeting the moment so that you don’t miss the moment, Lugh is himself the master of moments, bringing just the right skill to bear at the right time. And so it is right that this be Lughnassah.
We have missed so many moments. Or have we? The thing about moments is that we do not always get to choose the moment that we are meeting. The moments come, and we either recognize them for what they are and seize upon them, or they pass us by. We either harvest the low-hanging fruit that is drooping from the boughs, or bypass them because we are chasing the fruit that is higher in the tree. And if that is what we choose, then we shouldn’t be surprised when that low-hanging fruit drops, and rots away. We do not choose the moments that come to us, but we do choose how to meet them.
The first harvest has come. The moment, such as it is, has arrived. Do you recognize it? How will you meet it? Will you seize upon the low-hanging fruit or will you climb higher in the tree? Are you willing to risk letting that fruit go? Do you have all the skills necessary to meet this moment? If not, you know who to call upon — the patron god of this moment has all the skills in his very talented hands. And just like Lugh, we have the potential to not just meet the moment we’re in, but master it.