Reflections from SUNDOWN: A Summer Solstice Sound Bath at Ace Hotel Chicago

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Today, the summer solstice marks the astrological event where the northern hemisphere of the earth reaches its maximum tilt toward the sun. The result is the sun’s highest position in the sky, yielding the year’s longest day and shortest night.

As I researched this day and the significant cultural traditions surrounding it, I kept encountering repeated reference to a celebration of the sun’s “abundance.”

Speaking to the notion of an “abundant sun” in a city like Chicago in the midst of a weather year such as this brings nothing if not an irritated smirk. 

What sun?

What abundance?

Like many of you, I’m over it.

Where’s the sun? Where’s summer?

Why is the lake so high?

Is this climate change?

Is this the new normal?

They say it’s going to get worse…

In fact, in the days leading up to this event, I’ve been feverishly checking the weather app, fearing we’d not be able to encounter the magic of the outdoor space. A summer solstice event, confined indoors due to clouds and rain.

It turns out, despite my technological urges, weather is not something I can control. In fact, I know better than to even complain about it. Could there be a more mundane topic? But despite this June’s grey, chilly malaise, I know the earth has a natural rhythm and the tension between that and my current experience got me thinking… Is the abundance of sun something we can celebrate despite its seeming absence?

Historically, the summer solstice has been cause for ritual and celebration because of its most essential meaning: food, crops, growth. It was and is time for feasting, dance, singing and gratitude.  Acknowledging the particularly present, fiery ball in the sky and all it offers: daylight, a time to see and be seen … accompanied by… doing, making, performing. This is not the not the cozy, inward nature of winter, but rather the barefoot, dancing, drunk, sweaty experience of summer. Fleshy evocation.

But today, those metaphors seem to fall flat. Clearly things are different. The weather is weird, our food barely requires seasons, too much of my day is dedicated to instagram and Donald Trump is president.

That being said, I believe we are often caught only seeing the cloudy June of our singular experience. This narrow purview causes us to forget the natural truths that occur despite us. 

The earth turns.

The sun burns.

The moon wanes.

The rain comes.

The clouds part.

The days are short.

Today is long.

The universe is abundant.
This is abundance.

There’s a sound and a rhythm to it all, and there has been ever since that initial bang. Its echo yielded a pulse, harmony, and song. While at times our experience can feel muted, the aforementioned truths remind us that it is there and I offer that simply stopping and listening is the way to notice and remember. Sure it’s tempting to complicate the sine waves with our daily complaints about the weather. But, if we were to free up that vibrational space for listening, I’m convinced we would uncover an abundance that does nothing if not envelop us just as consistently as the sun hovers above the clouds.

For some, scarcity of resources is real. We acknowledge that. But the universe is abundant. It is an unwavering truth that there is plenty for all and the sun, on a day like today, even behind the clouds is the brightest reminder.

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