Excerpt from Hello, Goodbye: 75 Rituals for Times of Loss, Celebration, and Change (Simon Element) by Day Schildkret. Reprinted with permission.
Overhead, the sun seems to linger at its zenith forever and ever. On this day of days, the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice is the culmination of light. Up here in British Columbia, where the Earth’s tilt is even more pronounced, the evening summer sky still glitters hues of blue from the day that just won’t end. My own skin radiates warmth from lying like a lizard on the beach’s hot rocks, and even at ten at night, everyone is still wide awake — the neighborhood kids refuse to go inside. As much as the summer solstice is the height of light, it is also paradoxically about the waning of that light and the beginning of the return to darkness.
Summer solstice is all about fullness. After the dark and subtle tones of winter and the fresh ripening of spring, midsummer calls for completion. Yet with completion comes decline. And just as we’re getting used to devouring the plump joys of summer, the solstice reminds us that joy always teeters on the edge of sorrow. And all of that fullness will soon lessen and deepen, just like grapes do when giving way to wine.
Similar to the way you might pause to take in the view at the top of a mountain, the summer solstice asks you to slow down at the height of the year so you can take it all in: What happened in the past six months? What winter dreams fruited? Which seeds never even took root? What grew so much that it needs harvesting? What hard work can you celebrate? What now needs to transform?
The Bearing Fruit Ritual
May I acknowledge the beginning of summer and take stock of my successes and failures since wintertime. May I celebrate the fullness in this time of the year and also grieve the end of that full expression and the beginning of going within.
You Will Need
- One unripe fruit
- One perfectly ripe fruit
- One overripe fruit
- A large serving plate
Ideally, you don’t do this ritual alone but share it with at least one other person. If you want to do this with a larger gathering at a picnic in the park, at a dinner party, or even within your office, it’s totally doable.
Sure, you can come to this ritual spontaneously and respond to the prompts below off the cuff, but I encourage you to take time beforehand to really consider them. Maybe this looks like journaling and letting your mind wander on the page, or perhaps it’s a late-night conversation with a good friend, unpacking the questions together. This ritual asks you to raise up things you really care for, so they deserve taking some time to wonder about.
Each fruit represents a personal or cultural success, failure, or that gray area where you can’t tell which it is yet. They symbolize the achievements and efforts, the messes and mistakes, the relationships and endeavors that have been growing or not growing since winter. Bringing attention to them externally helps to feed the ones that need your beautiful attention and release the ones that didn’t make it. As you consider the questions, let them spark memories, musings, or steps forward. One fruit will be taken home, one fruit will be eaten, and one fruit will be returned to the earth.
It’s summertime! Go outside. It’s as simple as that.
The Unripe Fruit
Start with the unripe fruit: Hold it up and consider your past six months. This fruit symbolizes the “almost but not yet.” These are places where patience and perseverance are needed.
- What ideas almost materialized but didn’t?
- What relationships seemed promising and then fizzled?
- What projects are you still holding out hope for but are looking less and less likely?
- Afterward, wrap this fruit up and take it home and let it ripen in the sun in your kitchen.
The Ripe Fruit
Next, hold up the ripe fruit and consider your past six months. This fruit symbolizes all that has ripened well. These questions are to acknowledge all that is plump, full, and ready to be devoured.
- What did you achieve since winter?
- What relationships are thriving right now?
- What are your successes lately?
- What efforts and progress in yourself, your community, your country, or the world can you celebrate?
- What change looked promising in yourself, your community, your country, or the world and turned out to be premature?
After answering the questions, eat that yummy fruit and enjoy that delicious juice running down your chin.
The Overripe Fruit
This fruit symbolizes the mess, the decay, the disappointments that need you to let it go so it can return back to the earth. As with the other fruits, hold it up and reflect on the last six months.
- What has come into your life and what has left?
- What old relationships need to be released?
- Where have you made a mess?
- Where does your heart break when you look at yourself, your community, your country, or the world?
After answering the questions, dig a hole to bury it or leave this fruit under a tree to be consumed by the bugs and birds. If you are in a public park or a place where you can’t leave or bury the fruit, wrap it up and bring it to a compost bin rather than a garbage can, because all that compost will become soil once again, where new seeds can be planted.
Complete this ritual with some praise and gratitude, especially for all those unseen and unknowable forces that guided and granted you all that you received and didn’t receive since the winter solstice. And of course, the last bit of thanks goes to the sun. Soak up the heat knowing that it will continue to fade.
For more on Day, please visit: morningaltars.com