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  • The Meaning of Summer: Soul and the Solstice in 2020


    As we pass the summer solstice on June 21, it’s important for us to reflect on the meaning of summer. This is particularly true, given the challenges we’ve faced in 2020.

    Summer Solstice Sunset

    The human race has celebrated the arrival of summer at the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, since prehistory. At many sites around the world, elaborate structures have been built to capture the sunlight of that special moment when the sun is at its highest in the sky. Chichen Itza in the Yucatan, Mexico, Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK circa 1000 BC, and the “Scottish Stonehenge” at Callanish circa 3000 BC are all examples of humans building extraordinary structures to capture this unique moment of the beginning of summer.

    The solstice issues in the extraordinary days of summer, with their heat. In temperate climates there is often the sense that the world has become fully alive. As the poet William Carlos Williams puts it,

    In the summer, the song sings itself.

    C. Day Lewis waxes in a similar vein:

    Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon.

    Summer has this sense about it of the wonderful fullness of life. Especially in the early days of summer, in late June, it’s easy to agree with sportscaster Al Bernstein:

    Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.

    Yet this time of the early days of summer in late June, just after the solstice has a dual character. After all, the solstice day is the longest day of the year. From now on, the days will start to shorten, at first imperceptably. Yet, gradually, we’ll head through the “dog days” of summer into the fall, and on toward the short, faintly lit days around the winter solstice in December.

    What is the Meaning of Summer for Us?

    Very often, these transitory warm days can make us feel that now is the time when we should live our lives to the full. We should be out doing things that are fun, travelling and seeing new places, having new adventures and connecting with the people who matter to us. The impulse is there to just generally live large, to relax and enjoy things and to “get while the getting’s good.”

    For just this reason, the season of summer can generate anxiety, or even depression, for some people. It can often feel like there are all these wonderful opportunities out there at in these passing summer days, and that I should be out there enjoying them to the full. Yet, there can be fear that “I’m missing out”, or somehow not getting enough of the wonderful things that belong to this season, as it rushes by us all too quickly.

    This Summer: A Particular Sense of Loss

    In my opinion, this feeling of “missing out” on summer is something a great many people are particularly feeling at this time. We all feel that this is the season when we are wanting to get out into the world with our summer plans. Yet this year, much more than in the average year, many of us are intensely experiencing the sense that we may not get all the good things from summer–and ultimately from life–that we feel we want and need, due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

    We feel deprived, and very much as if something has been lost. This feeling may serve to bring some key questions into focus in our lives. What is it that we actually do want in our lives? And how do we go about getting it?

    It’s would be easy to get lost in a sense of stuckness about all this. After several months of lockdown, which will still continue in some form or other for some time to come, we could easily be left with the feeling that the situation is too big. We might feel that it’s too overwhelming for us to do anything about it, and so we could end up feeling paralyzed. What can often happen to us in the face of something that feels overwhelming is that we can move into emotional denial that there is even any issue, and then just ignore it. Such denial would make it that much more difficult for us to get what we need from life at this point in our life journey.

    Getting Unstuck, and Getting What We Need

    The early days of summer are unfolding. As we simultaneously deal with the unusual constraints of lockdown, it can be particularly important not to succumb to a sense of powerlessness and stuckness. It’s important to identify what we really want from summer, and from life. Then, it’s important to think carefully and creatively about how to go about getting it. Travel and hotel accommodation might not be in the cards this summer, but are there other things, such as creative day trips, or experiences at home or nearby, that might bring vitality and enhance the meaning of summer in my life?

    Working with a supportive /a-midlife-transition can be an excellent way of exploring creative options that make the most of your summer, and that open creative and life-giving doors in your life as a whole.

    With warm wishes for your journey to wholeness,


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