One of the things I loved the most about studying at a university on Scotland’s beautiful northern coastline, was having long, long summer days. During May, the month we finished up classes and sat our exams, the sun would hang around in the sky until after 10 p.m. The light lingered long after the coffee shops and bars had turned out their gaggle of students trying to cram in knowledge at the last minute.
Those years, late on Thursday evenings, my flatmates and I would often cross the road from our corner flat, head under the ancient archway in the road that was once part of the Abbey, and disappear into a tiny chapel in the private school grounds.
Here they held a sung Compline service once a week, one of the many university choirs turning up in their red wool robes to guide us through the beautiful night prayers together.
Save us, O Lord, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep may rest in peace.
I’d slip back out of that short evening service in some kind of heavenly trance, to see the remnants of light still clinging to the pale sky, the birds still singing their evening tunes to the fading day.
The summer solstice has become one of my favourite times of year. It tends to sneak up on me, coming so early before the European schools have closed for the year, when everyone is still “looking forward” to the summer.
This year is different though. My Midsummer Baby is due to arrive any day now. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for many months, counting down the weeks, the days. And as the light lingers longer in the sky each night, we find any excuse to sit out on the balcony and take it all in.
This time seems to hang heavy with significance—this moment before our lives are forever changed. It’s like nature is slowing down time so I can take it all in, allowing these extra hours and minutes of light to sit and absorb all that is happening within me.
And maybe that’s why I’ve grown to love the summer months so much, because they call to me to slow down, they teach me a new rhythm in my days, to notice the hundred shades of pink and blue the sky turns as it greets the night.
I remember what it feels like for my breath to slow down, the tension to lift off my chest, to notice once more the birds singing rather than the incessant ping of my smart phone.
I’ve started to embrace many of the seasonal festivals these past years—the equinoxes, solstices, May Day and Harvest Festival. I’ve found new wisdom in the old ways of marking the changing seasons, the lengthening and shortening of the days. I’ve come to see it all now as an incredible gift from our endlessly creative God—the way his world, every creature and plant he imagined and brought into being, has something to teach us about what it means to truly live.
And this midsummer? It’s giving me time to pause, time to reflect and release all my fear to the one who loves me. It’s giving me time to hope with great joy for all that’s about to come. And so I’ll sit out again on the balcony tonight, a light blanket to ward off the evening chill, my feet up, maybe a glass of lemonade to drink, and I’ll remember to thank Creator God for his gift of lingering light and the way he’s so beautifully set me within his rhythm of creation.
This post originally appeared over at She Loves Magazine.
Summer Solstice is usually 21st June. I’ve written about celebrating Summer Solstice here before. And if you’re interested in how this intertwines with Christian faith, my friend Kathleen had a great post about why and how she celebrates.
May the blessing of light be upon you – light without and light within.