As Lughnassadh reminds us, the Wheel is turning, and while summer’s heat continues as if it will last forever, there is already a feverishness about it. The birds, the creatures of fields and forests, and even the Green Ones are now in their most intense push of the year. They stretch roots, branches, wings, and legs. They ripen, fatten, and make the most of their remaining time of expansion and growth.
Now the sun rises and sets noticeably later and the bright zenith of the Solstice light is clearly waning. It is only six weeks until light and dark change places in dominance. A steady frenzy of activity catches hold now in the wild places. There are babies to wean, chicks that must learn to fly, and stores to gather for the Winter that surely comes.
So many events this week, including this very holiday, seem to be conspiring to remind us of our own mortality. I have several friends who are this week coping with the death of very important loved ones, the kind of people who shape us on such a fundamental level, we can’t imagine their not being around us forever.
We are shocked by events like the sudden catastrophe in Minneapolis. Our hearts go out to the people on their usual “hump day” commute home, or people on their way to a baseball game, or – well who knows what destination they thought they were heading for? Driving along with all the ordinary concerns of the everyday, never a thought that the very ground beneath them might suddenly give way, turning their lives completely upside down, changing them forever. Or ending them in a stroke.
And of course, in the background, the body count in Iraq grows. And grows. And grows.
We live always in the shadow of death – death that may strike at any time from anywhere, or death that can be seen coming from a mile away, but is as inevitable and irrevocable as frost.
We know this, but we forget. These reminders, like a mother bird who gently but firmly shoves her babies from the nest, may feel rude, unfair, and certainly challenge our comfort zone. But they are gifts from Spirit.
For if you are here, reading these words today, you still have time. The first harvest is a time to take stock. It is a loving, but urgent invitation to adjust, edit, and nurture the beautiful gift that is your life. So that when it is your time to depart, you will have known and appreciated all along what a wonderful life you have had.