Yesterday was summer solstice, the longest day of the year. And for the first time in seventy years, the solstice was graced by a beautiful full moon – a Strawberry Moon. Solstice is one of the oldest celebrations we have, but our culture is inconsistent in its commemorations. Some people celebrate with bonfires, some may or may not take note of it on their calendar, and some might not notice it at all. Part of me thinks it would be nice to have an official tradition to follow. Traditions are nice, after all. Yet another part of me enjoys the opportunity to reflect and create my own meaning.
It was serendipitous that our monthly sister circle fell on this special Strawberry Moon solstice. I can honestly say that I cannot think of a better way to spend this once-in-a-lifetime night than surrounded by a group of beautiful, vibrant sisters. Even the serious topic – guilt and shame – couldn’t suppress the joy that exuded from everyone last night. The joy of being together, as sisters. The joy of feeling ourselves stretch and grow as people, as little by little we come into our own as the women we’re meant to be. The joy of gratitude, for everything we already are and everything we already have.
Joy was the word that kept popping up for me yesterday. My husband mentioned it to me, and then the irrepressible giddiness of the women at circle exemplified it in every way. Even my contribution to our salt bowl, vibrant rose petals of gold and pink, seemed to embody it. So I think for me, summer solstice is now going to be the holiday of joy, of savoring the here-and-now fully and with no reservations. No dwelling on the damp and muddy thaw behind us. No worrying about the shortening days and bitter winter to come. Just standing at the pinnacle, taking in the heat and sweat and lush greenery, and savoring every last moment.
Our circle finished before the moon came out, but my friend and I caught glimpses of it peeking through the trees on our ride home. It wasn’t a particularly dramatic full moon. It wasn’t crazy colors or unusually big. But just knowing that it was rare, that it was something we’d most likely never see again, put a smile on our faces as we drove.
Life has been good lately. Ned finished up his first school year at a new job and now has shortened hours for the summer. We’ve had a string of days with warm, sunny weather where we can get outdoors and soak up some vitamin D. We’re even at a good place with parenting at the moment. Jonah has calmed down considerably since turning four and is giving us a break from the nonstop power struggles. Silas is a typical two-year-old, with typical two-year-old behaviors, but they aren’t getting us riled up the way Jonah’s did. It’s different the second time around when you realize that it’s normal – and not a sign of bad parenting – for two-year-olds to throw tantrums and be stubborn as hell.
After a rough two years, this is a welcome respite. When I was younger, I thought that life was always supposed to be like this, but experience has taught me differently. A lot of life is about facing challenges and coming through the adversity stronger and wiser. It’s how we learn and grow. But these days of peace and contentment – of enjoying the earth, our creative pursuits, and each other – are precious. The struggles might be where we grow, but at the peak – where we soak up the long days of sunshine – is where we really live.