I've always loved the first of May. Maybe it is the Celtic and European blood in me, or the feminine, or the longing for justice and the appreciation of those who forged the struggle, or the family birthdays which fall this month, or simply the rising sap of life and creation itself - all topped off by those champagne breakfasts I enjoyed on this day in Oxford - but I adore it. Of course it 'works' so much better in the northern hemisphere - 'oh to be in Paris now that Spring is here', as the old song has it? (and indeed I've been blessed to be in that beautiful city of liberty in May on a number of occasions). Yet it is such a gorgeous symbolic celebration of veriditas - greening - in so many senses of the word. It rings for me, sings to me, dances in me: with joy, with hope, with transformation...
So what does, or might, May 1st mean for you, I wonder? Is it Beltane, the ancient pagan festival of Spring? Is it International Workers Day, the celebration of labour and people's struggles for freedom? Is it the beginning of Mary's month, the outpouring of divine fecundity? Whether, for you, it is none of these, something else, or nothing at all, may we all be blessed today by the promise, and in-breaking, of new beginnings, fresh blossoms, renewed connections. For, in my view and in my deep-down spiritual experience, May Day is one of those truly precious liminal dates in our calendar: a threshold and symbol of 'in-betweenness' which breaks open new possibilities on every level.
In the words of John O'Donohue, that great priest-poet of the divine thresholds and transformations of our world:
I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
('A Morning Offering', in To Bless the Space Between Us, A Book of Blessings)
1/5/2018 08:39:47 am
I can only imagine what the beginning of May might connote for one who lives in the northern hemisphere, but I imagine that the feelings would not be unlike those of us who experience life from this hemisphere. For me the first of May represents a turning from the hostility of summer – hot, glare to wash the subtlety from all colour, torpid such that no animal ventures forth, imprisoned indoors and grumpy to a time when the weather turns to gentle. The air is sweet with possibilities, walks to flush the soul and an openness of spirit that does not begrudge waking to the day. It is the ‘turning’ time.
1/5/2018 09:10:48 am
Thanks Graham - that is a very helpful way of putting it and making things real here. There is a kind of kindness, gentleness and freshness isn't there?
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Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.