Danna D. Schmidt
Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®
Ordained Wedding Officiant
Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®
Ordained Wedding Officiant
The whole year ‘round, from my front porch
(except for days-on-end of snow clouds, rain clouds)
I watch the sun set behind every bump and dip
of the mountain skyline, from north of Mt. Eddy
to south of Castle Crags.
Tonight, a few hours before summer solstice,
I stand just outside my front door and note once more
the sun’s intersection with the skyline, hidden
behind the slender trunk of our neighbor’s cherry tree.
The door and the tree establish themselves
as cardinal points of observation
for this annual event.
After I am gone, my successor
might continue the observance, and so on
until the cherry tree, the house, are gone.
Long after the age of human observers
the Eddies and the Crags will shift and crumble
and be gone, but the planet will continue
tipping one way, then another, as it circles
the sun, the ancient one that subsumes
all we are and all we know.
The earth, the sun, in far off temporal frames
we cannot imagine,
will themselves be gone.
But what of this joy?”
Summer Solstice 2006 } by Jim Brown
What of this joy indeed?! Summer is here – squee! It makes me want to channel my inner town crier – the one who runs through the streets, ringing bells and yelling this joy-filled seasonal pronouncement for all to hear.
I don’t know about you but I am one eager bunny to shed the coats of winter and sluggishness of spring. Joy, in my little world, has felt like a scarce resource. And then there’s the little matter of Seattle having had a rough go of things, weather-wise. It began last fall and I might be making too much of things as an empath and social progressive to blame it on the U.S. election, but I don’t think so.
I trust I’m not the only one – if public riots and social media outcries are any indication. The whole world has been feeling the negativity and strife of this political turn of events. And so I return back to acknowledging the heaviness and burden of the first half of this year. I’m ready – aren’t we all?! – for the solar-powered attitude shift this new season begets. Attitude shifts invite ritual and Summer Solstice is always up for that, whether it be a simple organic rite such as planting or arranging of fresh flowers, or the lighting of an outdoor fire, or crafting a summer fruit mandala just for fun. I list oodles of ideas for ritual fun in my past Summer Solstice posts here and here.
To mark the advent of summer this year, I plan to offer up a letter to 2017 thus far, as a kind of mid-point check-in of all the existential angst I am anxious to be rid of, together with all I hope 2017 will bequeath in the months to come. I’m not looking for big bounty (unless world peace, white supremacy dismantling, and wholesale international aid funding counts) – just a lightening of our collective worldly woes in the smallest of ways. I wish for sprinklings of ease and peace like so many dandelion seeds blown from east to west across the land on the warm summer winds. And I desire momentary bits of sparkling kindness, joy and grace by the sand bucket full for all of our inner treasure hunters to excitedly overturn on the beach and sift through. Truly, I’m just seeking everyday magic all season long. Is that too much to ask? I’ll take my chances.
And sure, I’ll submit my wish list for loads of sunny Seattle days – (we’ve earned it!) – and that Serendipity goes on an overland trip and pays everyone a visit with a basket of berries and bundle of fresh garden veggies in hand. Because who doesn’t love to shuck peas from the shell and eat them right there on the spot?
This season, I want to hear lawnmowers and outdoor music and smell barbecues and taste new ice cream flavors. I want to pack picnics, and take sunset pics, and roadtrip to Oregon in August to catch the eclipse. And I want to savor moments with family, like stargazing on camping trips while eating S’mores.
Summer does that to us. It asks us to look up, look way up to the heavens to know wonder. And it asks us to crouch down at ground level and marvel anew at each ladybug, each inchworm, each flower, and each blade of grass.
Some of my Summer Altar symbolic odes to joy, including art cards by Jeanne Bessette.
My summer altar this year shall sport a requisite giant sunflower and other symbolic odes to the season. Spritzing essential grapefruit oil around my home spaces to awaken joy also feels like an ideal start to tomorrow. And to honor the fleeting stillpoint, I intend to make a new SoulCollage™ card for my deck – one that honors the Solstice, which etymologically speaking, derives from the Latin, solstium, which blends sol (sun) and stil (stopped or stationary, from the verb sistere).
Now, while I know I can’t still the sun except photographically, I can borrow a page from the spirit of Solstice and still my own shine with each new breath, each noticing, and each forthcoming nod of gratitude this season. And isn’t that the hidden heart of ceremony right there – stopping time and paying homage?
Blessings to you, good people, this Solstice and this summer of ‘17. In the words of poet David Whyte, may you find endless opportunities to turn sideways into the light this season.
Turn sideways into the light, as they say the old ones did,
and disappear into the originality of it all.”
David Whyte, from “Tobar Phadraic”
I became an artist and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” Viola Davis To be a celebrant Is to be a Visionary, Guide, Scribe, Servant, Priest, Healer, Poet, Mystic, Fool, Storyteller, Detective, Shapeshifter, Alchemist and Artist. (Cards from Caroline Myss’ Archetype Cards deck). As I sat… Continue Reading
Writing Poems for the Dead I’ve heard that the dead gather to watch and listen when we write about them, and even if they want to be remembered in our small bodies of words, all too often the poems are a tight fit, clumsy and shapeless as air. We have to be careful writing poems… Continue Reading
Labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island, WA Here we are…already 13 days into January! These past couple of years, the early days and weeks of the year have been all-consuming for me, as I’ve juggled work and time-sensitive projects. But I don’t let that stop me from the joy and fulfillment I get from enacting my January rituals, because the entire month… Continue Reading
Ah….blessed changing of the season’s guard! The year has turned ’round yet again while many of us were busy making other plans. Summer Solstice holds such mystique and never more so than when we can inch ourselves northerly to experience the full long light of this day. My fondest Summer Solstice memory was getting to participate… Continue Reading
Life is short. Drive fast. Leave a sexy corpse.” Stanley Hudson, (The Office; Season 8, Episode 15) I am all about the first and final words in this motto…and perhaps less about the driving fast part these days. Life itself drives fast enough – way faster than we might like. And yet knowing this, most of… Continue Reading
They are the best of days, they are the worst of days. I speak, of course, of the late spring/cusp-of summer, high-holy days we have come to celebrate as Mother’s and Father’s Day. If you are a newly-minted parent with a babe in arms and said babe’s grandparents are alive and well as first witnesses, these can… Continue Reading
Looking up at La Grande Roue de Paris (April 2016) How to make sense of death and make peace with life in the midst of the mysteryand inevitable suffering that death brings? That is the question on my mind today as I consider five family deaths and a multiplicity of lesser joys and sorrows, losses and… Continue Reading
I really had the best of intentions to update my blog more. Sigh. For a peek at some of my ceremonial distractions these past months, however, have a look at my inaugural issue of Waypoints…in which I wax poetic about weddings, poignant about the season of my father’s dying, and prophetic about honoring your own… Continue Reading
“I am from clothespins, from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride. I am from the dirt under the back porch. (Black, glistening, it tasted like beets.) I am from the forsythia bush the Dutch elm whose long-gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.”George Ella Lyon, excerpt from “Where I’m From” Where I’m from, we… Continue Reading