The Solstice arrives
At 6:12 AM, the officiant breaks our silence. We arise and a member of the circle produces a conch shell brought back from a meeting with Mayan descendants in the Yucatan. Such shells have historically been used for communication and for religious purposes including the calling of the new solar year into being as it peeked across the horizon. We are told that the Mayans chanted a word that phonetically sounds like the English word for relationship – kin. And so, in three sets of six chants accompanied by the blowing of the conch horn, we call the new sun, the new day, the new era into being: Kin…kin….kin….kin…..kin…..kin……kin.
As we finished, the words of the Navajo Blessing Way suddenly came to me:
In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty
As I walked from the embers of the dying fire into the waxing sunlight of a new day, I found myself deeply grateful for that little band of human animals who had come together that morning to observe the Solstice. I did not know most of them but I always recognize fellow travelers on the spiritual journey.
I also do not know what this new era in humanity’s history will bring. I remain guardedly hopeful. However, I am certain of one thing. If this new era proves to be an improvement over the last era of devastating wars, shallow ways of being human and the selfish use of natural resources that has brought our biosphere to the brink of collapse, it will require us human animals to confront and to repent of our species’ original sin: anthropocentrism. This will, no doubt, be one of our most difficult challenges. And our success in meeting this challenge may well determine whether we as a species will greet the dawn of the next era.
We must come to recognize our proper place in this “fragile earth, our island home” as the Book of Common Prayer so aptly describes it. The indigenous people are right. Our Mother must regain her balance. Our human species is one of many members of the good creation, all of whom have equal claim on their place on this planet without question, but ultimately we remain just one of many species. If we are to be loved, it will only be because our actions demonstrate we have in turn learned to love our fellow life forms and to respect the author of life in whom all being resides. As the Lakota put it so well: “ALL my relations!”
Happy New Era.
The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando
If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
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