life practices: summer solstice

My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.

Summer Solstice was June 21st!
I had hoped to facilitate a Summer Solstice celebration this year at my Unitarian Church (Unity in St. Paul), but instead we needed to make a trip to visit Dave’s aging mom in Massachusetts. Carol Leborveau, a friend, lead a very simple ritual to welcome the first signs of the light at 4:30 am in the morning (!) in my absence. Only a few brave souls attended, but it was rich and meaningful.

The Summer Solstice reminds us to notice and celebrate the full return of the light. The daylight hours have been growing since Winter Solstice, each day becoming slightly longer until the Spring Equinox in March, when the day and night were equal in length. This full-on light invites us out of the house, into the warmth, into its embrace. The seeds that slowly prepared themselves in the mysterious darkness within the earth and within our souls are ready to bear gifts in the fullness of the light. We are invited into a season of fertility, abundance, vitality, and blossoming.

What is calling you into blossom? As the poet Mary Oliver invites in her poem The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” You may want to write in a journal or create a ritual to explore this invitation. How can you embody the gifts that have been growing in you? Does anything need to be released in order to allow these gifts to manifest? A short ritual could include:
• In the brightness of the day
• Write each “blossoming” or release on a small piece of paper
• Light a candle and say a blessing or intention
• Read one “blossoming” or release at a time, and then burn it in the flame, allowing it to be transformed into whatever form it will take in your life.

Remember that as this day came to an end, the days are now very slowly becoming shorter, until at Autumn Equinox, the day and night will be balanced, and by Winter Solstice, we’ll be back to the longest night. Savor and revel in the bounty of this Summer season and the gift of “your one, wild, and precious life.” Next year, I hope to celebrate the Summer Solstice continuing the ritual Carol started at Unity Church Unitarian.

If you’re interested in creating a meaningful ceremony to mark some passage in your life, read more about my work as an Interfaith Minister below.

Reverending! I feel so happy to be an Interfaith Minister! I just married a couple on Saturday, July 2nd at Irvine Park in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a perfectly beautiful day in an old part of St. Paul. I get so much joy out of marrying people! The process of helping them to find the right words to express their love and their vision for their relationship is so inspiring and meaningful! And then to consecrate the relationship they are aspiring to with family and friends…You can tell I’m enjoying myself in this photo—the music for the recessional accidentally started playing at the beginning of the ceremony! 

I’m also going to be the Worship Leader at Unity Unitarian Church on Sunday, July 10th. I’ve lead worship a few times now and really enjoy it! The title of my sermon is With One Smile, inspired by a poem by e.e. cummings and the journey I’ve been exploring lately of allowing more gratefulness and joy into my life. I wrote about and collaged about this the theme in a previous blog post. You can read e.e. cumming’s poem in the poetry section below and one of Mary Oliver’s poems, also a pivotal part of this service, in the delight blog post mentioned above.

Here’s a brief description of the service theme: Sometimes opening to suffering is what awakens us to joy—the heart is cracked open to the depth and breadth of life. Another way to awaken to joy is to cultivate the soil in which it grows and is nourished—and we can begin at any time with one smile! Katy Taylor and Worship Associate Jeanne Barker-Nunn take delight in playfully exploring the art of savoring and welcoming all of life.

I’ll also be talking about a new practice in my life—Laughter Yoga. I’m getting trained to be a Laughter Yoga Leader, so you’ll hear more about that soon. But in the meantime, check out local Laughter Clubs near you, and if you’re in Minnesota, this is my teacher, Jody Ross’s site.

Be in touch if you’d like me to facilitate any Interfaith Ministry services, rituals, celebrations, worship services, and more!

Music. I have been enjoying sharing music at my Unitarian Church here in St. Paul—a few weeks ago, I sang a few of Hildegard von Bingen’s luxurious and mysterious chants as part of a service exploring the virtue of Wisdom.

If you don’t know about Hildegard, a 12th century feminist, prophet, mystic, healer, teacher, and abbess, google her! The group that I think performs her music most authentically is Sequentia—see the “Hildegard von Bingen Project.” You can listen to some samples on Amazon if you like. I was blessed to have the chance to study with this group at a Summer music workshop years ago, and have enjoyed continuing to sing Hildegard’s music.

I’ll be opening the St. Paul Classic Bike Tour on September 11th at 8:00 am with 15 minutes of Hildegard’s music this year. The organizer wanted to mark September 11th in a peaceful, prayerful manner, and Hildegard’s music is being billed as “Hymns of Hope.” Hope to see you there! Dave and I may be riding after I get done singing—it would be a great way to celebrate our anniversary!

I have recorded a few of Hildegard’s chants on a number of my albums, with Welcome Brigid being the most recent album available on my site.

Have you tried listening to different music lately? It’s easy to get stuck in one genre that we really like, but listening to a wide range actually stimulates us and helps us to get out of stuck personality patterns. If you don’t normally listen to medieval chant or if you’re used to plainsong, try Hildegard’s music; if you listen already, try something completely different. Notice how it affects you—not in terms of “good” or “bad, but the sensations, the feelings, the thoughts that arise. How can you nourish yourself with music?

The Enneagram is my favorite tool for understanding how my personality operates. It’s an amazing psycho-spiritual tool for really seeing through who we think we are to who we really are, to our Essential Self or True Nature. Check out more about the Enneagram on our site.

Dave and I recently started calling our business “Winged Heart” (see collage below). We really love the idea that the Enneagram along with other practices that we are involved in is about opening the heart to greater freedom and joy. The heart is the “pulsating core of our aliveness,” “the center of our being,” as Br. David Steindl-Rast writes in his book Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer. Dave’s and my work, both personal and public, is about freeing the heart to be touched, to open, to feel all things—to be wholeheartedly alive!

We are taking a break from teaching this Summer, but we’re looking forward to teaching again in the Fall—see our upcoming schedule which includes a workshop to help us in our psycho-spiritual growth (5 week series, Oct-Nov), a presentation with a new take on the origin of the Core Emotions of the Centers (mid-Nov—date TBA), and a Couple’s Retreat (early Dec).

We’re always both available for consultations with the Enneagram, both individual or couples. We’re also certified to offer the Prepare & Enrich Inventories, which we have customized to include the Enneagram and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) for premarital or marriage enrichment.
Collage. I wrote last season that I was too busy to make time for collage—and it’s still true! I am working on gathering images right now for a piece to explore an old wound from when I was teenager. I usually find that exploring an issue visually engages my process in a deeper way. New insights open when I’m not just analyzing the issue with my mind, but exploring what images attract me, how they want to be placed together, and what the final gestalt is. I’m looking forward to continuing this collage process.

In addition to engaging in collage as a psycho-spiritual practice, I offer workshops, consultations, and collage artwork. You can see more collages on my site and this blog.

What kind of nonlinear right-brain practices do you engage in? Do you make time for them in your life? How do you feel when you do?

Poetry. As you know, one my favorite practices is that of welcoming poetry into my life, whether I learn it by heart, or just read it. If you love poetry, too, you can sign up for my sporadic Poetry/Prayer List. And here’s the e.e. cumming’s poem that’s an integral part of my life and my July 10th Service.

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

Summer Blessings on your life practice/practice of life, Katy

Author: Katy Taylor

I am a regular person, like you. I am an earth lover, a seeker, a singer, a gardener, a partner and friend. I have attended a lot of trainings and continue to do my work to grow and deepen and become a more loving person. If you're interested, you can read more about me on the About page.

3 thoughts on “life practices: summer solstice”

  1. The last few years have found me listening mostly to Keith Jarrett solo piano improvisations. My favorites are The Sun Bear Concerts, The Koln Concert, Radiance and Hymns/Spheres, where he improvises on a large pipe organ. He discusses improvisation in terms of a transpersonal experience that is potentially transformational. I study and play the soprano saxophone. More and more it is become more than a past time or even a personal passion, but a spiritual tool. Keith Jarrett sits down at the piano and basically “plays himself,” what ever he finds, or can go to, in that moment, spectacular emotional journeys of the spirit. I am working at doing the same. All of the new musical material I gather through study simply gives me more tools to probe with. As he said, music is often not about music at all, but about something else. I love music that is transformational, and that has as its intent, personal transformation. Maybe any music that touches us fits that description. I will discover Hildegard.


  2. your practice sounds very fulfilling, miles! just to sit down and let yourself express through the saxophone, giving voice to how/who you are in the moment…let me know if you hear Hildegard’s music and if it moves you, too! for me, singing it feels very natural, an outpouring of myself into the shape and flow of her music, which then becomes mine as well…


  3. Dear Katy,
    Yes, I did find the music of St. Hildegard of Bingen. I went through a period where I loved Gregorian chant, so I do find it soothing. When I play/meditate, I sometimes go more in the direction of playing simple monophonic lines from classical music using just major scales or modes. I may incorporate some of this style into my playing, but I need to listen to her more; it is quite playful and spirited! I would love to hear you sing it and will look for some on your website. I would like to hear your voice. Thank you for Hildegard; I shared her with another friend who also likes chant.


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