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Today is the year’s longest day. As we sit on this serendipitous ball of water-drenched rock, sailing through the space at 66,700 miles per hour, we will arrive this afternoon, at 2:06 pm Eastern Daylight Time, at that place in our annual 149.6 million mile journey around the sun at which the Earth’s gladfully tilted northern axis points most directly at the sun and our hemisphere is most fully bathed in its lifeforce.
I think it’s the year’s best moment to stop and contemplate the mysteries that surround us. And I think we very much need to find such moments wherever we can and whenever they present themselves. I think this is the amorphous hunger so many feel. A hunger for connection to something larger than themselves, something that reaches well beyond our daily banalities to penetrate deeper and get at the marrow of life, a spiritual hunger for a relationship with the divine. For me (and we each have our own definition), that divinity is embodied by nature, the sum of all things that sustain us and that bring to our senses and our hearts the inscrutable beauty that cannot be named but only known.
It’s only in those moments where we’re properly humbled by a universe whose complexity and majesty and boundless perfection are beyond understanding that we finally find our own true selves. And there we float, motes of dust drifting in a vast cosmic sea of marvels, stripped bare to the purity that is wonder, washed clean by awe, and freed to finally see with our soul’s eye what it’s all about. Which is simply that we are and everything is. And how incredible, how mind-boggling, how miraculous is that?
The ancients understood this better than we. Hubris has clouded our judgement. But in the days before arrogance made us in our minds larger than we are, this was the day on which such things were marked and honored. Fires were built in tribute to the distant star that showers us with the energy that creates the food that brings all life. Celebrations were uncorked. The people bowed down before the great cycle of the seasons and the magnificent rhythms of the Earth, and were thankful, joyful, blessed to know and to have their small place within it all.
It is powerful medicine, this understanding. It heals hearts, clarifies vision, and produces the vital knowing that we need to see ourselves as we really are: part of the great chain that links then to now, there to here, and this to that. For we are, as our sages have always known, inextricably connected to everything else. To break one link in this chain is to break them all. And to fail to honor this essential point is to sully the divine and diminish ourselves. It’s in this knowledge, knowledge borne of those pauses we take to look around us and appreciate the wonder and beauty and mystery that surround us every day in every way, that we find the strength and the will needed to make sure those mysteries long endure.
So on this longest and most light-filled day, take a moment. Step outside. Feel the sun on your face and the wind on your skin. Listen to the Earth and let it beckon. If you do, if you can, you’ll find the magic that’s waiting in all things large and small. Pause there its midst and come again to knowing. For in the morning, the struggle to save the divine and all that we cherish will be joined anew. And we owe it to ourselves, our children, and our cause to bring to that fray all the inspiration and wisdom that days like the solstice and the moments that they mark can deliver.