We're basking in the abundant splendor of summertime here in the Hudson Valley. It's hard to sit down to write, I find myself wanting to be with the growing and flowering and popping. It's quite an extraordinary display, one that has me in awe no matter how many times I've experienced it. This week we're still coming down from the high of the June full moon, also known as the Strawberry or Rose Moon. Moons were named this way by First Nation and Native American communities to remind people of the harvest time and the cycle of the seasons. While you may not be growing either of these plants, you can orient yourself to the Earth and her abundance with these names.
I recently spent time with a Mohawk (Kanienʼkehá:ka) grandmother, a spiritual elder of her community, who shared a powerful creation story from her people with me. She reminded me too of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address as she prayed, saying "And now our minds are one". The whole address can be found here. As we abound in berries - I'm particularly struck by this part at the present moment:
When we look about us, we see that the berries are still here, providing us with delicious foods. The leader of the berries is the strawberry, the first to ripen in the spring. Can we agree that we are grateful that the berries are with us in the world and send our thanksgiving, love and respect to the berries?
Can we agree how wonderful it is to count the weeks by what's ripening? The strawberry is the leader of the berry season, a succession of wine berries, raspberries, blueberries, currants and blackberries follow in quick order. We're in good company with the bears and the birds and all of life that thrives from this sweetness.
In Chinese medicine this time of year is associated with the fire element and the Heart organ. The heart, as the emperor that maintains the rate and the rhythm of the pulse, is the organ that craves intimacy and nourishment through our direct relationships. Whether through our most intimate love relationship or the work we do in the world, these connections should have the effect of directly nourishing our heart.
Summer time is the season to ask: How is your heart? How are you nourishing your heart by engaging with things (activities, work) you love? Are you enjoying the fruits of your labor?
Assessing the quality of your relationships (to self and others) is a huge step forward towards manifesting the life your heart is yearning for. Here are four exercises you that can help you get to the heart of the matter, inspired by the book Start Finishing by Charlie Gilkie. I wrote up these questions last year at about this time and they continue to be relevant and timely.
1) Imagine that you're celebrating the most important thing you've done over the last year with a dear friend or loved one. If you could only pick one thing, what would it be?
2) What are you weighed down by? What would you feel relieved to no longer carry or do or be in your life? Can you imagine letting this go, or perhaps changing your relationship to it?
3) What are you most likely to wake up two hours early for, or stay up two hours later for, or steal time to create two hours to do? How much of your time and attention lately has been focused on things that truly matter to you?
4) If you could change one thing in your life that would bring you the most vitality and joy, what would it be?