Celtic Celebration of Litha: June 20, Eve of the Summer Solstice
By Mary Daly, RSM
The summer solstice celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, the full blossoming and coming to fruition of seeds that have been sown. In the Christian calendar, this celebration is observed during the time of the feast of John the Baptist, who announces the birth of Christ, the Light of Love, which brings Life to the world. As the sun reaches its greatest extent in the northern hemisphere, we are reminded and come to celebrate the great power of the light the Creator has given to us and the marvel of its relationship to the planet Earth.
We know little of how the ancient Celts ritualized their observance of this time, but the writings of the early Christian monks indicate that hilltop bonfires were lit to honor the space between earth and heaven. Modern exploration of the heavens has opened for us the marvel of the relationship between the Sun and Planet Earth and of the interconnection of all the beings in the universe. We have altered this relationship by harmful practices such as misusing Earth’s gifts; generating greenhouse gases; and polluting the air, the land and the oceans. We know the urgency that faces us to correct the harm we have done.
The Christian tradition has shown us the mystery of God’s love flooding all of Earth. Here too we are aware of the harmful effects that our lack of love causes. The oneness of Earth and the universe is a reality that we have transgressed in our relationships with each other and with creation.
We will gather here at Mercy by the Sea, not to light bonfires, but to pledge our care of these relationships, to honor them and to celebrate both this great light of the Sun and the Light of Christ with which the Creator has blessed all of Earth.