Blog: Summer Solstice and the Light of Potential
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
Traditionally, we have come together at the drumming circles at the Sacred Stream Center on the equinoxes and solstices to honor our relationship to the sun. Since the pandemic began, just before the spring equinox in March 2020, the sanctuary has been quiet – not only at these moments on the calendar, but every day.
As the summer solstice approaches, COVID restrictions are being lifted in California, even as much of the world remains in the grip of the virus. As we remember those who are still caught in the throes of the pandemic, those of us in the Bay Area are looking toward gathering together once more.
On the summer solstice the sun rises farthest north in its trajectory in relationship to the earth. The sun appears to stand still, seeming to rise to its noonday zenith in the same place it rose the day before. Its journey to extend the light increases only an imperceptible amount, compared to the previous day. “Solstice” is derived from two Latin words: “sol” meaning sun, and “sistere,” to cause to stand still. This is why this moment in the calendar is called the solstice. It appears that the sun “stands still” in its trajectory to increase the light and the length of the day.
It seems fitting as we approach the longest day of the year that an opening into larger possibilities might be extending toward us. This is particularly true because of another celestial event that is happening in the sky this week. This is the moment in its orbit when the planet Venus is closest to the sun. Venus is the planet of beauty, love and possibility in western astrology, With the potentials of this influence enhanced by its proximity to the sun, we soon may be able to step into a new collective experience, beyond the constrictions of the pandemic.
This new potential has certainly been evident in the sanctuary at the Sacred Stream Center. Thanks to donations from last year’s fund drive, we have been able to begin the restoration of the three stained glass windows that grace the room. One is on the eastern wall, another on the southern wall and the third on the western wall of the sanctuary. They each receive the light of the sun each day for a certain period of time as the sun passes from east to west. The play of light in the room is magical at any time of day.
Two of the windows are over one hundred years old and have not had their frames restored in all that time. The third, though only about 40 years old, had begun to lose all its glazing, and pieces of glass were falling out of the supports. As the renovations of the youngest window have begun to take shape, a new dance of light has entered the sanctuary, with rainbows and new prisms of light at play in the room. There is a picture here of the sunlight passing through the window as it is being restored.
If current trends continue in California, we may well be meeting once again in person for the winter solstice drumming circle on the shortest day of the year. But until the moment when we can come together, the sun’s light passing through the prisms of stained glass will continue to illuminate the room as the days grow shorter, marking the cycle of light in which we are all privileged to participate.