When you possess light within, you see it externally, Anais Nin.
Yesterday was the Summer Solstice, the northern hemisphere’s longest day of sunlight, the official start of Summer in this part of the world, when the northern polar axis of the earth tilts most sunwards and longer days of sunlight follow. Traditional cultures knew the significance of this date and marked it by lighting bonfires. This tradition passed into the Christian era with the lighting of bonfires and fireworks on Midsummer’s Day or in some European countries on the eve of the feast of Saint John, le feu de la Saint-Jean.
Fire, light, festivals. They remind us that our lives need moments of joy and celebration. We can forget this when we are in a difficult place, like when we are faced with new challenges. Our mind switches into danger mode and narrows its focus, dominated by thoughts of the difficulty. The Chinese Proverb “When you only have two pennies left in the world, buy bread with one and a lily with the other” reminds us that even in hardship, we need to create reminders of beauty and warmth. Our circumstances are always changing. Life can at times be difficult or dark. It it how we live in those dark moments which determines whether we suffer. Even with little means we can decide to celebrate, we can choose to notice the beauty in our lives. It is true that we can certainly be cheered when the sun shines outside. However, largely our sense of contentment is determined by what we do within. “Difficulties are inevitable, suffering is optional” the phrase reminds us. To paraphrase that in the light of the start of summer – a lack of sun may be inevitable from time to time, but darkness within is optional.