Celebrate the Mystery of the Summer Solstice

dark matterMystery is one of the Universe’s greatest gifts to us.  Mystery reminds us that we are more than we can see and that endless adventures await us if we will only open ourselves up to the possibilities that come from living in universe with realms that are beyond what we perceive with our senses in our day to day lives.

Unfortunately, Mystery is not much valued in our society that feels most comfortable when all the fundamentals of our world are understood and neatly fit into categories and niches, whether of science or religion. Mystery is found in abundance in ancient stories of the creation of the universe and of the bringing into being of life, and seems to have been a part of daily spiritual life when they were created. What are we missing by not celebrating more the joy we feel when we gaze up at the stars and wonder what is out there or into a baby’s eyes and think of the infinite possibilities of her future?

As it happens, we are actually surrounded by Mystery.  Dark energy and dark matter make up 95% of the universe (you can see it in the darkness of the ring in the photo above). We  do not understand what these are. You can read more from NASA by clicking here. We only know they exist because of their effect on such things as the rate of expansion of the universe, as I understand it. In other words, all the galaxies, stars, planets, and everything that makes up what we think of as the universe is only 5% of what exists. Someday dark energy and dark matter may be understood, but, for me, it is a visible symbol of Mystery’s delights brought to light.

When I think of Mystery, I think of winter, the dark time of year, when so much of life’s creation goes underground and makes ready for the emergence of spring, when we are more apt to go deep into the Mystery within ourselves and make ourselves ready for our own rebirth. The Summer Solstice can be thought of as the coming of the Dark, of the time of Mystery, just as the Winter Solstice is celebrated as the coming of the Light. The time of light has grown longer and longer and, the day after the Solstice, will begin to recede to make room for the now lengthening nights and all that they bring.

IMG_1124So, the Summer Solstice is the time to welcome the burgeoning of Mystery back into our world. But, at the same time, the hot, abundant days of summer also have their own Mystery. The succulence of the raspberry, the beauty of a peony or a rose, the wild exuberance of the grape vine – all these have an element of Mystery in the vitality of life within them.

This week of the Summer Solstice, as you plan how you will mark the day that has been of such importance all throughout human history, think of Mystery’s great part in this moment of the year. What is Mystery to you – both the Great Mysteries and the small every day ones? How can you add these into your observance, whether that is a formal ceremony or just a moment spent during the day looking up at the sky and feeling gratitude for the sun’s warmth? How can you remind yourself and others that, however much our daily lives may take up almost all our thoughts and time, Mystery surrounds us and is to be celebrated?

Image credit: NASA, ESA, M. J. Jee and H. Ford et al. (Johns Hopkins Univ.)

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