The longest day of the year is also the first day of summer. It is also attendant to the shortest night. Thoughts of the Summer Solstice may bring to mind half remembered evenings spent sitting upon rough hewn logs, laid in a semi-circle round a campfire, as friendly fireflies flash silently from the darkest shadows. While swatting the occasional mosquito and listening to the quiet sounds of the evening, you may have realized that people have been enacting this very same ritual for thousand, or even tens of thousands of years.
If we could some how roll back time to flip backward through the years and observe, like leafing through the pages of some majestic tome of human history, we might see a multitude of generations of our ancestors doing the very same actions we partake of on this unique time of year. The faces of the actors change but the plot of the book remains the same.
It may be that the further we look back the more eccentric the ideas and beliefs of our ancestors become. But beyond the excellent virtue of hindsight we have an additional powerful asset at our disposal. Once upon a time even the most educated people believed the Earth to be the center of the universe and that the Sun and planets revolved around us, for our edification. Through careful reasoning, trial and error, and the amazing power of the scientific method, we now know the truth and it is more awe inspiring then the ruminations of our primitive ancestors.
Our universe is more vast then any mythmaker dare imagine. We are the only technologically advanced species known. We are not the physical center of the universe, but thus far we are its moral and ethical center. If not for human advocates for happiness there would be none. Without us to explore the mysteries of the cosmos they would remain undiscovered. Without people to demonstrate compassion, and to inspire hope these emotions would not be found anywhere.
As long as life exists there is apt to be misery. It seems to be built into evolution. But our happiness and our actions to reduce suffering here on the Earth matter because as long as there are humans there is some one who can and will stand opposed to misery and act to promote good.
You can make a connection to all of those people that passed before us and who experienced so many of the same emotions you and I feel right now. In this modern world not every one has the opportunity to find their way far out from the city lights and into nature to build a bonfire and stare up to the stars. But you can always do so in your mind’s eye.
On a more intimate scale you might take a votive out to your backyard patio this Summer Solstice Eve. Light a candle, stare into the flame. If you take a moment to glance upward to the stars and galaxies that surround you, then you may feel as one with the cosmos.
Star aflame, Moon alight
Fire and sparks
On the shortest night
Through logic’s might
Reason bares keen insight