June 17th and the Summer Solstice soon arrives on our doorsteps for yet another turn in the wheel of the seasons. Nature’s constant care in her cycles provides a perfect mirror of our own internal and external processes. The day when the sun lingers long in the sky and darkness comes late and short, before another early dawn is like the times when we are warmed by the receptivity of life, friends and community. Received we feel blessed, belonging and bountiful.
Growing up I was not so consciously tuned to the summer solstice, yet as this time of year arrived, school’s demands fell away and the warm summer breezes called, I felt the call to dive deep into the crisp blue waters of the Big Rideau Lake in Ontario. Here was a body that received and welcomed me after a long winter.
Our family owned a log cabin in the back of Horseshoe Bay, where the loons called longingly in the evenings and the water on the bay sometimes appeared as still as a looking glass. One of my favorite summer day activities was to run from the end of the dock onto the wooden diving board my grandfather had made, leap high into the air, bend in half and touch my feet and then get long in the body from fingernails to toes and enter the crisp clear lake like a knife, leaving as little wave as possible behind me. Divers call this a “jack knife.”
The lake received, enveloped and embraced me like no other – human or otherwise ever could. The caress of the deep wet hand of the lake brushed every hair on my head and body as I moved through the water like an arrow. Then, with frogs legs and arms I would propel myself as far as I could out into the bay, making little puffs of exhale to linger longer in the underworld of seaweed and diving loons, eyes open in the clear water seeing the sunlight above indicating the surface. Arriving where the edge of water meets air, a last breath would escape with the puff of a whale surfacing. Perhaps a preparation for breathing practices to come later in my yoga practice?? Or, perhaps something organic to the organism we call a body – the playful pull to experience life moving in the stream of things.
In the heat of the day, burning with the sun’s constant gaze, I would jump from the dock in a cannonball style plunge into the cool lap of the lake. She embraced me, no matter how I entered. Like a slick and sleek arrow barely cutting the surface, or an unexpected explosive ball of fire, scattering water to the four directions, I belonged here.
The lake was a refuge for my teenage turmoil, a holy place of welcome and unconditional care.
And now, just a few days away from a wee trip back to Ontario I find the longing to enter the lake building in the bones and flesh of my being. Oh, I have entered many creeks, rivers, streams and of course – grandmother ocean, in the times between my memories and this moment, and yet some thread of wisdom has called me now to drink from the healing waters of my birthplace once again.
A feeling of sanctuary in the seventy-two trillion cells gurgles and grows as I anticipate the cool touch of the lake and her unique medicine.
Malidoma Soma says “Being born into this world in a particular place is like having the signature of that place stamped upon you. The essence of your place of birth cloaks and protects your walk through this life, and whatever you do becomes registered in the ledger of that geography.”
Our birthplace – in the form of the unique signature of the elemental forces and landscape can be a form of sanctuary for us. Of course, we will find many places of sanctuary in our lives. Hopefully, the place where you sit right now – the 72 trillion cells we call a body is one of them!!!
and in the days to come I invite you to tend this new card of inquiry: