The Summer Solstice arrived at 6:51 this morning. Unlike Christmas when children wake before dark to rush out to their stocking treats or Easter when those same children scamper to find their chocolate bunnies, many of us were still asleep. What a shame. Mother Nature threw us a big party and we lazed. Maybe we need a place to properly mark the day, as the Brits have their stone circles.
A while back I visited Avebury in Wiltshire, England. On that same day I also visited Stonehenge. Stonehenge, if you’ve not visited lately, requires tickets and reservations. Those who arrive without planning are left to gaze from behind fencing. Both sites enjoy a tide of visitors for the Summer Solstice.
Of the two, I was most smitten by Avebury. The stone circle, the largest in the world, encompasses an area of miles; it runs through the middle of the village, past fields of grazing sheep, across roads. Except for modest signage, a museum that does charge admission, and a book shop catering to things pagan, there is no hype. The day I visited, a gray sky held back rain as we wandered through the stones that have stood for some 3,000 years. I placed both hands on the lichen-covered surfaces, hoping the stone would speak to me in some way. Through my fingertips, I felt an ancient language that is never lost. I am sure I heard a murmur.
I won’t be visiting any pagan sites today. I am marking the hours as the sun parades across a sky so blue that even I can imagine flying with the birds. And maybe because I’m no longer 20, or 30 years old, the day is precious.
I’m aware of my breathing, aware that today is a gift of exceptional sunlight that only comes once this year.
Like other things we take for granted, the longest day will speed by unless we stop and savor the sunlight.
Avebury photo by Art Campbell