St John’s Day comes – 24th June – and with it brings a sense of completion or fulfilment. The summer – here in the northern hemisphere – seems to properly arrive, even as the sun turns downwards again. The other cardinal points of the year – Christmas, Easter and Michaelmas – also usher in a fullness and a sudden shift of mood, in relation to their respective seasons. There might be a sense of relief, almost of justification or acceptance. I don’t know if other religions experience these significant points in the same way but certainly paganism exalted the equinoxes and solstices. There is a gap of three or four days between the solstices and Christmas or St John’s Day. But the movement in those few days is transformational.
The old Christianity has in many ways lost its place in human awareness. Perhaps this is a good thing. In the old days Lent was a true preparation for Easter, Advent for Christmas, and a nature symbolism invoking fires and dragons reminded people of St John’s-tide and Michaelmas. The days themselves did not come until they came. The period leading up to them was given over to purification – or at least to an awareness that there was an imbalance in human nature which the individual could not redress by him or herself.
There is no value in outward observance on its own. The heart must change – as John the Baptist declared. The human being must head for the depths – the depths of winter, spring, summer and autumn – and find out if his or her own true nature is located there: out of sight of the world’s conventions. A deeper partnership – which only keeps the light, the stars, the moon and even the sulphurous dragon for its symbols – must be entered into, if it is to have any meaning. It is possible that our future on earth depends on it.
Should you ever happen to see the sun
as a human being of the greatest span
that little minds like ours can comprehend,
and if you saw this sun in flowing light
encompassing the entire world in love,
then you’d have seen the spirit of St John.
But he is just a cipher or a form
announcing to the world the light itself,
which lives can reach where minds themselves fall short.
Can I live that much more than I can think
that with my life I might encompass this
which is the circling universe and more?
Clouds of flies inhabit the evening air;
swallows dart as low as blades of grass;
summer’s molten colors simmer to blue;
St John has been – his day has gilded night.
Strange that his partnership is so wintry,
a starlit birth in December’s darkness,
but both these two have lived and shone and died
in their seasons to fill our years with truth.
The swallows have reached my ears, without song,
with perpetual flight, and flies crowd like thoughts.
I am not good enough for this baptism,
which is creased in the corners of the stars.
Best wishes, today,
©Jay Landar 2013. All rights reserved
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