Reclaiming Your Heritage
a vast vaporous gas cloud began collapsing under its own weight
spinning ever faster as it spread into a flat disk shape,
with an enormous smoldering crimson red center.
Hundreds of millions years later the heart of the flattened gas cloud
began glowing ever more brilliantly white until it exploded
in a sustained thermonuclear fire—our Day Star, the Sun, was born!
Anonymous among the hundreds of billions of other stars,
yet it was destined to shine for ten billion years.
Around this baby star, however, blazed a blizzard of inestimable giant rocky asteroids frequently colliding with one another in a nightmare of unimaginable violence. Some were deadly head-on collisions where the two exploded into fiery bits and pieces. Some were crashes merging the two asteroids as one into a new larger body, while a few of these giant asteroids fortunately escaped by discovering safe orbits around the Sun. One of these lucky ones was Earth.
Planet Earth continued to be battered by bombardments of smaller asteroids, but over the millions of years these collision scar craters cosmetically became oceans and valleys. Meanwhile Earth was being vastly enriched from massive donations from space of organic matter. Today all life on Earth runs on Sun energy, every atom on earth was once—out there! Coal and wood are but harvested ancient Sun star energy. On the upcoming Solar Birthday of our day star Sun, rejoice it’s only middle aged and contrary to apocalyptic prophecies will shine for another 5 billion years.
Early this Friday morning, June 21st, will occur the Summer Solstice as the tilt of planet earth’s semi-axis is the most inclined towards the Sun. The Romans observed the Solstice on June 24th like other pagans with great bonfires, dancing and feasting. Unable to suppress this pagan, raucously joyful summer holiday the Church baptized it “The Feast of John the Baptist” and shrewdly included in that holy bath the enchanting pagan revelry. As early as the 5th century the Church declared it as one of the highest feast days.
Unfortunately—and unhappily—today instead of celebrating the Solstice we work or go about our daily routines. Having become an “indoors” people divorced from the cycles of nature we’ve forgotten our hereditary primal holy day of bonfires, feasting, drinking, dancing and, in puritanical abstinence, work instead of play.
A proposal: Reclaim your heritage of this ageless June Sun holiday. Celebrate it by having fun, by having a sun party or picnic. And don’t forget the symbolic sun—the bonfire—even if it is only a candle flame. To assist you in this hereditary renewal is a ritual blessing I’ve taken from my book Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim: A Personal Manual for Prayer and Ritual.
Holy is this fire of midsummer's eve,
and holy are you, 0 God,
who from your burning heart
drew forth a fiery ball
and flung it into space.
Your laughter shook the empty cosmos
and echoed again and again
until the darkness of space resounded
with your love and with fire.
You reached in again and drew forth fire
and seeded it like yeast
in each atom, plant and animal,
each bird, fish, man and woman.
And you gave us a special star, our sun,
aflame with a life-evoking energy
to make our planet green and fertile
sun-soaked in your love.
As we celebrate this magic feast,
open our eyes to the countless wonders
and to the sparks of fire-life
that you have planted in each of us.
May this holy and magical night
be aglow with star-fire and God-light
as we once again begin
the sacred season of summer.