The summer brightness awakens within us a deep sense of gratitude and hope, we smile more frequently, and we all live better in the light.

Hope Horton, a great spiritual writer shared her summer solstice reflections:
‘The Summer Solstice reveals the sun in all her glory in the northern hemisphere. She will never be higher in the sky nor grant more daylight than at the moment she stills above the Tropic of Cancer, just before earth’s angling pushes her south to her winter rendezvous with the Tropic of Capricorn. This is the range of expression of life on earth. Everything that has evolved over billions of years comes alive, creates, and expires within this measured frame. Without the sun (at its precise distance from us) there would be no life on earth. Without the tilt of our axis, there would be no seasons. These are the cosmic truths within which we have our life, our breath, our being. All that occurs within the course of a year is but an outworking of this relationship with the light of life. Her waxing warms the leaf out of its winter home in spring, her fullness swells the fruits of summer, and her waning drains the grass of its green in the fall. July’s melon becomes January’s frozen turf, light gone dark by its dying only to shape-shift as spring disposes come March or May.’

Before reading any further I knew I needed to be outside in order to fully connect to the meaning of the words being shared. I needed to sit in the morning light, with my bare feet on the surface of the earth, and allow myself to appreciate the sacred relationship that all life has with the light of the sun. In the past weeks there has been so much darkness, fear, and pain cast upon humanities morally righteous paths that we have been getting through each day with heavy hearts, often not sure of what occurrence will bring the next sorrow. I think especially of war in Ukraine and the devastation caused recently, by exploding a public dam. It is our faith that guides us through these times, grounded in love and hope, and today, especially today, we must practice our call to Care for Creation by honouring the summer solstice, a highly spiritual time.

As I grounded myself in my backyard to finish reading the rest, I thought about Jesus as the divine Son, born in the winter solstice, died and resurrected at the spring equinox, and how the summer solstice represents the ascension. This brought me comfort and healing to my life, knowing that God loves us and that the summer solstice is a time to celebrate the light of consciousness within ourselves and to reflect upon the potential for consciousness to awaken.

My skin began to warm as I sat on my back garden with my feet touching the earth and my spirit grew stronger as I read the last paragraph of Hope’s message:
‘The sun deserves our most profound and total gratitude for the fact of our continued existence on this blue dot. But life does not come with a promise or a guarantee for more. Whatever matters most to you this Solstice season, start now by saying thank you for this day. Then feel it all light up.’

Fr. Paddy Byrne,
Parish Priest – Abbeyleix.
Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin

And the paper they were signing said they’d never fight again
And when the papers all were signed and a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads and grateful prayers were prayed
And the people in the streets below were dancing round and round
And guns and swords and uniforms were scattered on the ground
Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war

We all have dreams and aspirations, and these five verses reflect on our long sought-after dream of peace among the people of our common planetary home. Promises are made, treaties and agreements signed, hands shaken and elbows grasped against a background of national flags, ready made for television news. Until the next time. Promises made, promises ignored, distrust sown. The never-ending request for more sophisticated weaponry echoes round our houses as the international insecurity is spoken of again and again. Alliances are made, only to be broken with the first light of dawn. It is somewhat ironic that on arrival in a foreign country the Pope is often greeted with an armed guard. Since 1945 there has scarcely been a week go by when war was not being waged somewhere on this earth. Our respect for the prince of peace wears thin with the passing years. The current G7 talks have taken place at the rebuilt city of Hiroshima in Japan, the site in August 1945 of mankind’s first nuclear outrage. We can only hope and pray that our strangest dream is reality as the build-up continues on the plains of Eastern Europe threatening further conflict and loss of life.

Peace Prayer

St. Francis of Assisi, Peace Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Fr. Paddy Byrne – P.P. Abbeyleix, Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin