Midsummer; We Sigh & Celebrate

 A midsummer festival in Scotland is what I found myself reading about this week in The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny ColganGirls adorned in flowers crowns. Men in quilts. Bonfires, drums, fiddles, twirling dresses, and to top it off an unexpected, unpredictable sighting of the Northern Lights. (which I actually wrote 2 posts about this same time last year)

There was a collective gasp from the crowd. Then suddenly everyone was stomping and cheering, people jumping up from their blankets and trying to take photographs, which rather spoiled the moment, but Nina barely noticed. She was entranced, looking at the faint shimmering colors of the aurora borealis against the night sky. She had never seen anything so beautiful, so awe-inspiring, had never read anything quite so lovely.
— The Bookshop on the Corner, Jenny Colgan

I checked the internet wondering what date our summer solstice occurs; turns out it is this week, and starts tonight! It brings with it the longest day. A sigh or a celebration, or both? And I remember this quote from a book I read last summer in which there was also a Midsummer's night party. A girl from the story watches the preparations begin;

IMG_0360.jpg
The mower clattered away on the lawns behind her and she took up her stationary set, using it as a fan. Mechanical noises always made the heat seem worse and it was going to be dreadfully hot today. People did strange things in hot weather, unexpected things. It was not unheard of that a person might go a little mad when the temperature sweltered. Constance had never enjoyed Shakespeare-for the most part he was an utter bore-but he had one thing right: Midsummer was a strange and unpredictable time.
— Kate Morton, The Lake House

This Saturday I guess you could say we are having our own type of midsummer party. Oliver turns 4 on June 25th, so Saturday we are hosting a small backyard birthday party. I notice in my Sacred Ordinary Days planner, when I went to fill it out, that this Saturday is also a holy day in the liturgical calendar called Nativity of St. John the Baptist. "The day celebrates the birth of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Lord, prophesied of the coming of Christ and then Baptized Jesus as well." -Sacred Ordinary Days Planner

And the common prayer of the day is 

I will enter your gates with thanksgiving; I will dance in your courts with praise.
— from Common Prayer

All this combined

 swirls around in my mind today;

memories, dates, scenes from books and life in midsummer.

The day Oliver was born.

My water broke, but only just a little, 10 days before my due date (July 4th) after walking briskly on my treadmill. I wasn't sure though if that was really it. I proceeded not to tell anyone, and got my nails painted with my mom. Her treat since I was almost nine month pregnant and the Tulsa heat made it miserable outside. Halfway through the pedicure, I said  "I think my water might have broke this morning just a little". She freaked out and said I should probably go to the hospital to be safe. So I called Jeff. He met me at St. Francis, a pale pink hospital the color of a soft sun-setting sky in Tulsa, where I was also born. Embarrassment and emotions turned my face red and eyes watery an hour or so later when the test came back negative. They sent me home. Jeff took me out for salsa, chips, and queso to console me. Then sure enough, when we got home my water broke more and we went back to the hospital. Contractions began and Oliver arrived the next morning. It was magical, intense, and unexpected. A midsummer memory.

And now he's turning four. He came into my arms that day and began teaching me more about my own limits and capacities and the need to be gentle with myself, especially as a new mom who struggled with postpartum depression. He also brought gentleness and lightness into my life with his tenderness and cuteness. 

As I look in my Sacred Ordinary Days Planner at the Bible passages picked out for June 24th, the day of Oliver's party,  I decide to read it early today for this post, since I am writing about these midsummer celebrations.  And as I read gentleness greets me in a personal way. My heart is touched by the last line of Isaiah 40:1-11 

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. 

He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.

He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.

Isaiah 40:11