For as long as I can remember, I’ve been entranced by the soft skies of the warmer months – particularly those of late spring, which heralds their return.
Their beauty speaks for itself… but there is something else that haunts.
The word ‘soft’ is the key. Every one of our senses is touched in a silken way by the early mornings, long days and beautiful twilights. The air is not only warm, but fragrant with the perfumes of flowers, cut grass and the smell of the powerful sunlight bathing us all.
And beyond even this, if you listen deeply there is an emotional and voiceless voice:
“I have brought this to its fullness. Put away thoughts and drink it… Let it become part of you.. Take what you can from it; let its life be yours. It is fragile because it is perfect; it lives for an instant because it is timeless – but needs you for its completion; for it to say ‘I was there…’. But part of you, being creature, must move beyond completion in your life within these cycles.”
The ancient Vedic civilisation of India had the concept of ‘Soma’. Ostensibly a drink given to mankind by the gods, it renewed the vitality of the whole being, and connected us with the heavens. When I gaze upwards into soft blue skies, I think of Soma.
The Sufis spoke of wine as a divine metaphor with much the same properties. These are experiences waiting for us in body, mind and heart. The approach to the longest day is a powerful time to invoke them… When I gaze upwards into soft blue skies, I think of Sufi wine.
Later, as the summer wanes, like Alph the sacred river, we must pass through this beauty and down to a sunless sea on our way from Xanadu. (Coleridge – Kubla Khan)
The pre-solstice is a difficult time to capture and hold. The painter has a good chance; Van Gogh came close… The photographer can only render one aspect of it. The poet is, perhaps, best equipped… The words of Kahlil Gibran come to mind:
“One day you will ask me which is more important? My life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing that you are my life.”
Each year, I like to make a silent resolution for the three weeks leading up the Summer Solstice. Each day, I will find a right moment to say, softly: ‘I walk slowly, I walk softly. The life around me is my life. I drink it now. Let it be like ancient Soma in bringing me more alive…’
1 June 2020
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching organisation that provides home-based, mentored training in modern spiritual development.