So, for those who follow a more Pagan tradition (and for those of you who think you don't - there are a lot of traditions that carried into Judaism and then Christianity), today is the celebration of Lammas, the first of the festivals of the Harvest.
I identify myself as a Christian, as we've discussed before, but in my own personal faith I draw from a lot of different traditions. Because I don't think any of us have it exactly right. And I don't think that the good ideas in each are necessarily mutually exclusive - under the light of scrutiny, in fact many of them are complementary. It helps that I was raised in a tradition that is heavily steeped in ritual and mystery and allegory (however closed-minded it can sometimes be), but I think there's something to be learned from every faith. This is a prime example of what I mean - if God is in everything, then praising and giving thanks for the bounty that He brings us from the earth is very consistent with the Christian theology. And however we represent those parts - as gods/goddesses, as being part of a greater collective, as individual souls, as representations of a Holy Spirit - we bring ourselves closer to and embrace what is holy in our world, our higher power, and each other.
But I digress.
I went to a party tonight to celebrate Lammas. It was a small, well-acquainted group of people who come from various walks of life and who endorse alliance with multiple faiths. Many of us in the group have had multiple significant losses of late, and so this is the perfect time to reflect on that which has been harvested from our lives, the cycle of things, the idea that for growth and renewal we must cut down what has grown.
The ritual was beautiful, and gave us all a moment to make that reflection. We spoke individually and as a group of recent losses, of good wishes for peace and healing, and of hope for the future. We lit a lot of candles and shed a lot of light.
And I kept thinking of this Bible passage, which I looked up today trying to remember something that had been said at the funeral and in relation to a recent conversation Jen and I had about death and what to do with our bodies after that.
1 Corinthians 36-44: What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body...So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
Had I known ahead of time that it probably wouldn't have offended anyone there, I would've brought it with me and read it while I lit a candle. I really like the imagery that you don't plant what you hope to reap, that the seed has to "die" in order for something better, more nourishing, more hopeful to come forth.