A Book Journey – Chapter 10: St. John’s Tide
A monthly book study by Amy McGehee-Lee
Festivals of the Year: A Workbook for Re-enlivening the Christian Festive Cycle
by Roger Druitt
“We stand at a still point, at the solstice, at this midpoint of the year. The entire past stands behind us. And the entire future leads away from this moment. What can happen in the now, in this moment of stillness, is that the soul opens in gratitude.” – The Christian Community (e-mail subscription, date 6/25/17)
St. John’s Tide
As we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, we can realize our moment of stillness, a time in between, a time to reflect and feel grateful expectation.
Druitt opens this chapter with a reflection on the way in which Christianity is anchored within the year at two key points, Easter and Christmas. He expounds on the link between Easter, Whitsun and St. John’s Tide by saying, “At Easter a divinely permeated and transubstantiated human being gave new impulse to both human and natural life. Since the first Whitsun and its yearly renewal, human beings can find their life path together enthused and enlightened from within. Now at St John’s Tide, is added a cosmic light…focused by the Sun, mingled with creative life and set free in the aura of the Earth-the whole Earth.”
Not being deeply familiar with anthroposophical concepts, I had to meditate on this for some time before even feeling as though I had a glimpse into this idea or chain of events. It seems to me as though the festival year builds upon itself, evolving work from within and without, spiraling ever closer, inward and outward toward our ability as humans to transform the Earth by allowing this cosmic light to work upon and within us. For me, this concept is a seed that has been newly planted, but seems to be growing some roots. I still find many of the details a bit ephemeral within my mind. They seem to shimmer with significance and then slip away, only to show up again with more solidity, at a later date. Perhaps this is part of the study process?
Druitt puts forth that John the Baptist took on the spirit of Elijah, holding within it the vital forces of nature, at his conception. Since John the Baptist’s death, Druitt says, the “Elijah mantle,” has been expanded to include all humans. Druitt says that today, when bread is consecrated, “it is truly an emancipation from racial as well as geographical deities into the truly universal, divine human.” He goes on to say, “in our time the spirit of John is that which witnesses what the light is doing in man and nature.”
The author compels us to look at the light from every angle during this season, whether we be in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. In fact, he suggests there may even be a perfect compliment between the two, at this moment in time, giving us a full meditative picture. Have any of you had opportunity to consider the quality of light in both hemispheres?
I am still attempting to unravel the idea Druitt puts forth that, “Nature’s light shines into and transforms nature’s darkness; Spirit-light penetrates matter; human life takes a further step to transform nature-matter-Earth’s life.” What do you think this means in practical terms?
Druitt gives us a lovely meditative practice: “…one concentrates for a while on the picture thus built, then makes the extra effort to erase it and concentrate for a while on the empty space left.” I plan to try this practice on not only a few of the verses he recommends, but within other meditative context, as well. It seems as though it could be a powerful practice.
In regard to prayer during this festival, Druitt suggests that we, “Pray that warmth of heart can rise into the mind for grasping universal ideas-and flow down into the hands and feet for deeds on life’s path, that the fabric of the world also be changed.” I think this is a lovely prayer intention. It brought to mind a quote from one of my favorite modern philosophers, Mister Rogers. He said, “there are…stars within ourselves that are patiently waiting to be hitched to the work of our lives to brighten up our world.” In my mind, I see a correlation between “ideas” and “stars,” and between “deeds” and “work of our lives.” The spiritual transformation that happens within us is able to transform mere ideas and internal stars into the re-weaving of the fabric of the world. Beautiful!
The author gives us some wonderful ideas for contemplation in nature, including, taking a woodland walk (though this may be ill-advised in my area at this time of year, namely due to chiggers) and an idea I am completely enamored with, standing quietly in the midst of a swarm of honeybees. Druitt says that we can truly experience the spirit of the festival by feeling the energy of the swarm. He also explains the nature of the honeybees, flowers and plants, within the context of spiritual beings. I love the images he evokes.
As the chapter moves toward how to create our festival, which can last up until Lammas, at the beginning of August, Druitt tells us that St John’s Tide is a festival of inner creativity. He says we can be free in our creation of this festival, building around the mainstays of our other festivals: “a table piece, some shared study or contemplation, and our own brand of ‘repenting’: where does our soul require a change of heart for its own good and that of others?” Within this same vein, I find this time of year a perfect opportunity to assess my true desires for the coming homeschool year, my family and what changes I might want to make in order to move closer to my vision of our future.
He encourages us to find “a new beginning where affairs of life have come to a standstill. The long period between St John’s Tide and Michaelmas is then a time for developing the new seeds of heart and mind for bringing fruit into the world.” He also suggests that we can look back on any New Year’s Resolutions we may have made, assessing how those may have progressed, as well as making mid-year agenda points (he says these may be preferred to resolutions). He says to ask ourselves what themes in our lives we may want to take out “for fresh air and exercise.” He says by doing this, we can create seeds, ready for autumn and the Michaelmas season, capable of germinating during the winter, growing into fresh life and new beginnings within us.
Posted on July 3, 2017 in Book Study