Needless to say, this summer isn’t going the way we thought it would.
When we first emerged from the darkness at Imbolc, COVID-19 was emerging as a threat, but no one really had expected that we’d spend weeks and months either locked away in our homes, or on the front lines in “essential” positions constantly worried about whether your PPE was sufficient. We were not prepared for hundreds of thousands of dead. Nor did we expect that the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer who cut off his airway for 8 minutes and 46 seconds would set off a global wave of protests and a renewed interest in seeing racial justice both in our policing and in our society as a whole.
When you add in the murder hornets, the coke snorting wild boars, and tropical storm Christobal, it’s starting to feel like someone’s been playing an impromptu game of apocalypse bingo.
And yet here we are, celebrating Midsummer, which is also called Litha. Midsummer is the noontime of the growing season. It is not only the moment at which there is the most sunshine, the longest day, and therefore the height of the sun’s influence over our world. It is also that moment when we enjoy the most abundance with the least amount of effort. The harvest time in the fall also yields abundance, but the harvest of fruits and vegetables and other things we enjoy just before the onset of winter are had only if we are willing to put in the work to have them. There is an urgency because the growing time is coming to a close, and everything must be not only harvested, but made ready so it is available to sustain us during the dark time of the year.
At Midsummer, however, there is no hurry. Luscious fruits and berries hang on vines, bushes and boughs and may be plucked and eaten right from the trees. Greens have sprouted up from the ground and may be had in salads readily. We crave the freshness of foods that come straight from the earth. The heat of the sun makes us crave the cool, wet juicy things. Dehydration and heat stroke are real things, so drinking water is incredibly important now if we are outdoors. It is time for sipping lemonade in a hammock on a sunny day, with a bowl of cherries close at hand. It’s a time for floating on an inner tube on a lazy river.
So what does it mean to have Midsummer during turbulent times, when it feels more like you’re on a class V rapid in an empty barrel ready to go over a waterfall than like you’’re floating in the pool with a cocktail in hand?
Perhaps it’s because Midsummer is the tipping point. After today, the days will get shorter. The harvest is now on the way, coming as inevitably as the dusk follows the dawn. There will be no stopping it now. Everything that you’ve planted will now either come to fruition or be shown to have died on the vine. This is the last moment you have to enjoy the potential of a thing without having to take responsibility for its outcome. From now on, the ever looming question over every moment is “how are you going to make it happen?” Midsummer is the moment at which the urgency of manifestation commences.
You don’t control everything about a growing season. If the rain doesn’t fall, or a frost comes too early or too late, you can’t prevent that. The yield of a harvest is not entirely upon the one growing it. But at the same time, if a person wants to eat abundantly, they have to put in the effort to make sure that things do grow and that they are ultimately collected and put in the larder. And that effort may start small, but eventually, it grows. By harvest time, it’s a mad rush to the finish line. One can almost imagine that the conversation in the fable between the ant and the grasshopper happens at Midsummer.
And that ultimately that is what Midsummer is about — it is that last moment of languor, of celebrating all that we have to be grateful for, all the abundance we already enjoy, before we shift to making abundance happen for ourselves. We can and need to do both. The point of what comes after Midsummer isn’t to kickoff a season of toil and drudgery. Nor is the time prior to Midsummer all laziness and relaxation while we let nature do its work. We put in effort all through the growing season. And we should recognize that what we have also in part comes from things outside our control. There is room for both of these elements — hard work and gratitude for providence. It is the balance between the two, the emphasis that changes.
We are at a tipping point in our society, and it is only fitting that we should recognize this at Midsummer. The Universe is telling us as humans that the time of merely settling for the potential of certain outcomes is no longer enough. It is no longer enough to settle for the promise of racial equity. It is time for us to get about the business of actually making it happen. It is not enough to merely wish for the ability to reopen our economy. If we don’t do the hard work of testing, contact tracing, and maintain the vigilance of wearing masks and social distancing, we won’t actually stop the coronavirus and we will find that we merely rack up more illness and death. What we do in the coming months will say volumes about who we are going to be as a people, and we don’t have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines. We have work to do.
Blessed Midsummer, y’all.