Lammas or Lughnasadh first harvest, is the traditional celtic celebration of this time of year usually marked on August 1st. Not being a farmer nor literally harvesting at this time, addressing the question of harvest opens up the possibility for more of an internal quest. The question being, what am I harvesting?
Driving back from Brentwood Bay I found myself on West Saanich road in the vicinity of the Unitarian Church whose labyrinth I last walked on June 29 (Labyrinth as Healing). It seemed an opportunity to stop and ponder this question with the help of the winding path, the quiet, and the wide view across the valley. I found the grass brown across large areas, the surrounding ferns and shrubs dry and taking on colours of the fall, the apple tree bearing fruit, and the big maple a strong green against the parched earth. On entering the pathway I offered my question up for an answer.
Step by step I made my way walking steadily along the wide dried grassways, noticing the abundant yellow flowering in any area of green.
It is always a mistake for me to hope for some great revelation from the labyrinth, her lessons come to me in the most subtle ways, so subtle it is easy to miss them if I’m looking too much at the bigger view of life. Today was no exception. While I was certainly aware of the colours in the dried grasses, the wild flowering blossoms along the path and in the rough edges of the place, the bees, the cricket, the tiny lizard, the soft breeze rustling in the big maple tree, I did not at first ‘get’ the significance of any of these.
I reached the centre and sank into a long contemplative pause allowing the distant green meadow edged by the pale tan of mown grasses, to soften into a blur in my vision.
I felt deep gratitude for the softness of the day aware of the contrast to my experience last Monday in the extreme heat of the Lower Mainland where I wandered with friends in the beauty of Van Dusen Gardens. That day had held many gifts from the garden and many encounters with the winged and feathered occupants of that place. I stood in communion with the grove of Giant Sequoia each tree offering me a different perspective, every one of them willing to be in communication with this human. Seated under the pines in the wild section I was visited by a small hawk whose repetitive and rhythmic call caught my attention before (s)he landed on a branch above my head. Resting on a bench beside the lily pond the great Heron landed close by, her long sharp beak pointing towards potential prey under the lily pads. Two mallard ducks came swimming by quietly ignoring my presence. A crow called loud from the landing spot he’d found at the top of a nearby spruce, tiny songbirds echoed each other’s calls from tree to tree beside the Japanese Maples at another pond’s edge. Wandering in full sun solitude beside low branching cedars in the back corner of the gardens, I came upon a barred Owl wings outspread, sunbathing. On hearing me (s)he turned her great face towards me and we locked eyes for just a moment. The edges of my awareness blurred into the edges of the beyond human beings amongst whom I was walking and resting, extending my mind beyond individuality into unity.
So too today, that sense of my being simply another manifestation in form within the one great unity of life from which all beings are wrought. Nothing so special about me being human, nothing superior about me the human, just the fact of me and other beings rooted, winged, crawling, all together in the beauty of the winding labyrinth path displaying another shade in the many tones of the year.
What am I harvesting I asked again, simply the beauty, the beauty that engenders in me such deep appreciation and gratitude for life, mine and all that is around me. Blessed be Lammas, blessed be the first harvest, may the wheel turn in unity and peace towards the feast of Mabon.