May 1st: Growth after a period of cold


The month of May is called Bealtaine  in Ireland, after the ancient Celtic feast that was celebrated on May 1st. It marks the midpoint in the progress of the sun  between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, and announced the beginning of Summer. Hard to believe this year. Here in France it is the custom today to give as a gift the traditional flower for the first of May –  the  muguet, or lily of the valley.  This flower is a symbol of springtime and of beauty, used frequently in bridal bouquets,  and has traditionally been associated with the return of happiness after a period of darkness.   And yet this is despite the fact that its stalk, flowers, and berries are all extremely poisonous. A strange mix, but one that we find elsewhere in our lives. Often the places of greatest growth and energy, the places we learn most and reflect most upon,  are the places where we have been most hurt.  And frequently we find most freedom when we move from the places where we have been stuck, or the things that we feared most, without them being able to poison us any more.

Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses, who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us. So you must not be frightened…..if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. . . .


Photo: Lily-of-the-valley, Gordon E. Robertson

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